In today’s article we will write about these two highly advanced aircraft match up.  The Su-35 Flanker E vs. The F-22 Raptors. Which is a better fighter jet? 

When we pitted the F-22 against Russia’s universally extolled aircraft, the Su-35, the conclusion we came to is that the planes are so different in design and capabilities that they are difficult to compare. The F-22 is a different beast altogether, though, and a machine seen mainly as the ideal foe for the Su-35. The Su-35 is at least equal if not superior to the very best Western fourth-generation fighters.

Su-35 Flanker E vs. The F-22 Raptors
Su-35 Flanker E vs. The F-22 Raptors

We’ll start by taking a look at the Su-35. This single-seat super maneuverable multirole fighter flew its first flight in 1998 as a prototype but didn’t appear in its present form until 2007, when it was revealed to the public at the Russian MAKS-2007 air show. While the U.S. military believes it has the most significant combat aircraft, the Russian Military of Defense has also made such a claim with its Su-35. Fifty-eight have been built overall, and many more have been ordered, with each unit costing somewhere between 50-75 million dollars. It’s thought the cost to fly the plane for one hour is around 35,000 dollars. The F-22 cannot be exported because of the laws that protect its high-tech features and stealth capabilities; the Su-35 is up for sale. A handful of countries have expressed interest in buying the aircraft, but so far, only China has shown the money, ordering 24 planes for a cost of around 2 billion dollars. 

Now we turn to the F-22 Raptors. According to the United States Air Force, this fifth-generation advanced tactical aircraft is unmatched as an air-superiority fighter. Designed by Lockheed Martin, it took its first flight in 1997 and formally entered the service of the U.S. air force in 2005. 195 F-22s were built overall (8 test and 187 operational aircraft), with a unit procurement cost of a staggering 350 million dollars. This supreme flying machine was not only far more expensive to build than anything of its kind, but according to Air Force Cost and Performance figures, it was also a veritable super-consumer of dollars when in flight. The U.S. air force stated the F-22 costs $60,000 an hour to fly, compared to $22,500 for the F-16C Fighting Falcon and $30,000 for the F-35. While the air force has always been enthusiastic about what it believes is the best combat fighter plane ever made, it’s said that restart costs might be the reason interest has turned to other developments. 

Here are the specifications of The Su-35 Flanker E and The F-22 Raptors, this Source from combataircraft dot com & airforce dot mil.

Talking about the Maneuverability, Russia based the Su-35 on the rock-solid Su-27 platform, so its status as a “super maneuverable” fighter is a matter of fact. Russian pilots familiar with previous generations of the Sukhoi jet family’s thrust-vectoring capabilities have carried out spectacular feats of acrobatic flight, like the “Pugachev’s Cobra.” On the other hand, the F-22 has a tremendous thrust-to-weight ratio and dynamic nozzles on the turbofan engines. These mobile nozzles provide the F-22 with thrust-vectoring of its own, but they had to maintain a low profile when designing them to retain the F-22’s stealth edge. Possibly, the Su-35 could outmaneuver the F-22 in a classic dogfight.

For their firepower, Both planes are equipped with state-of-the-art missiles capable of shooting each other out of the sky. The Su-35’s need to carry ordinance outside the fuselage is a slight disadvantage, but the first plane to score a clean hit will win in general. The Su-35 can carry 12 missiles, while the F-22 carries just eight. Still, as Justin Bronk from the Royal United Services Institute notes in an interview with Hushkit.net, the Su-35 usually fires salvos of six missiles with mixed seekers, meaning the 12 missiles only really provide two credible shots. The F-22 could engage the Su-35 from far away as it is harder to detect due to its stealth advantage, so it could potentially make more economical use of its missiles.

In the arena of stealth, the F-22 is head and shoulders above any other operational jet in the world right now. For perspective, the Su-35’s radar cross-section (area visible to radar) is between 1 and 3 square meters, or about the size of a large dinner table. On the other hand, the F-22’s radar cross-section is about the size of a marble.

As Justin Bronk notes:

While the Su-35 does have the hypothetical capability to detect the F-22 at close ranges using its IRST (Infra-Red Search and Tracking) and potentially the Irbis-E radar, both sensors would have to be cued to focus on precisely the right part of the sky to have a chance of generating a target track. By contrast, the F-22 will know precisely where the Su-35 is at extremely long range and can position for complete control of the engagement from the outset with superior kinematics.

So, the F-22 and the Su-35 prove to be two planes of significantly different eras. The Su-35 carries more missiles, can fly farther, and is considerably cheaper. The Su-35 is a reworking of earlier Sukhoi models that have proven efficacy in traditional dogfighting, while the F-22 is the first-ever genuinely fifth-generation fighter jet. Battles that occur when the two planes are within visual range of each other seem to favor the Russian plane, on paper slightly, but the training and support U.S. pilots receive is second to none. So a one-on-one dogfight between an F-22 and a Su-35 would essentially be a toss-up that comes down to the particular skill of the individual pilot. But the F-22 wants no part in traditional dogfighting, and, importantly, air-to-air encounters begin beyond visual range. A single Su-35 stands little chance against an F-22 because the U.S. jets employ far superior stealth technology. While a Su-35 could potentially find an F-22 at a distance using thermal imaging, the limitations of those systems mean it would be like “looking through a drinking straw” at the vast open skies for the stealthy U.S. plane. F-22 pilots need not worry about out-turning or out-foxing the agile Su-35, as they could find and target the aircraft from much farther away and end the dogfight before it starts.

Historically, US-made planes have battered Russian-made ones, and the newest generation of U.S. warplanes reimagines aerial combat in such a way that future pilots won’t even have to get their hands dirty to deter or defeat the enemy.

So, How do you think these two fighter jets match up? Let us know in the comments!

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