The newest Su-57 will protect the invisible covers. The “clothes” made of special polymer materials will cover all the main parts of the machine. It will shelter Russian fifth-generation fighters in their home locations, making them invisible to the enemy’s aviation optoelectronic systems and radars. The covers will also fully protect the hull and sophisticated electronic equipment of the aircraft from bad weather. According to experts, this know-how will allow domestic aviation units to more efficiently transfer forces to a particular region of the world.
Bad weather is not terrible
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Deliveries of special covers for Su-57 fighters will begin in 2021, Izvestia sources in the military department and the military-industrial complex told Izvestia. The products will be made from polymers. Each aircraft will receive more than a dozen covers – separately for the wheels, lower, central and rear fuselage, wings, cockpit, nozzle, stabilizers, air intakes and other parts of the structure. According to the terms of the contract, with some points of which Izvestia got acquainted with, deliveries are planned until 2028. Eight sets will be produced in 2021–2022, and their number will increase in the future.
Such “clothes” will have a double function. Firstly, it will allow much longer and more reliable preservation of the coating of the machine and the electronics located on the outside. In the latest fighters, antennas, sensors, optical and electronic systems are located on the wings and fuselage. Earlier, the developer of the radar, Yuri Bely, told Izvestia that the Su-57 was the first aircraft to use the technology of the so-called smart skin: active phased antenna arrays of different ranges are distributed “over the body” of the fighter. Unlike the radars of previous times, whose antennas are attached to the nose of the car, the “smart skin” gives an all-round view of hundreds of kilometers, not just in the front hemisphere. In recent years, there have been many reports in the media about problems with the special stealth coating of the American F-22 – if it is damaged, expensive repairs are required.
Sew on defense order
Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev
Secondly, special covers will help to hide the plane from foreign special services, whose representatives show an increased interest in the car. In other words, the fighter will be “invisible” not only while flying in the sky, but also when parked on the ground. Thanks to special material, the Su-57 will be hidden from electronic reconnaissance equipment, not to mention the fact that it will be impossible to identify it on satellite and aviation images.
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“Where the planes are based, how many are there, where and from where they have transferred forces – the enemy will not know all this,” the former commander of the 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army Lieutenant General Valery Gorbenko told Izvestia. – Now practically nothing can be hidden, except perhaps underground. It is also important to protect modern technology from bad weather. Today, aircraft are sometimes covered entirely, but this provides little protection from rain or snow. In the southern regions, during sandstorms, paint is erased on machines like emery.
Stealth is not only in the air
As a rule, fighters are stored in hangars or under sheds. Thanks to the covers, the Su-57 will be able to be based even in an open field, which will expand the capabilities of the Russian Aerospace Forces, according to Honored Test Pilot Colonel Igor Malikov. If necessary, aircraft can be quickly deployed to temporary airfields, including those where there are no canopies for equipment.
Sew on defense order
Photo: RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich
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“The presence of Russian aviation may be required in various regions of the world,” the expert told Izvestia. – If for some reason we cannot give the car a roof over our heads, then reliable covers are absolutely necessary for it. Their cost is low compared to the plane. It is imperative to hide the fighter from surveillance equipment and protect the electronics located on the outside of the vehicle from weather phenomena.
Manufacturers are now executing contracts for the supply of a total of 76 Su-57s to the Ministry of Defense. This year, it is planned to complete state tests of a pre-production batch of aircraft. The fighters have already visited Syria twice. There, they attacked the targets of militants and terrorists using new guided missiles and bombs specially designed for these aircraft. According to military specialists, all tasks were successfully completed.
It is planned to reach the planned production rate of the Su-57 from 2024. Earlier Izvestia reported that by this time an improved version of the “second stage” fighter would be developed as part of the Megapolis development work. Its distinctive feature will be a new generation of engines, super-maneuverability, improved avionics and an expanded set of high-precision weapons.
Sew on defense order
Photo: TASS / Sergey Fadeichev
The modernized version will expand the range of the aircraft’s guided weapons. According to experts, the Su-57 is a multipurpose vehicle capable not only of fighting for air supremacy, but also of delivering precise strikes against ground and surface targets. Several families of “smart” missiles and bombs are being developed for the aircraft, which can be placed in its internal compartments.