Su-57 is a secret machine in many ways. No one will bring the exact characteristics and composition of weapons on a silver platter. Sukhoi’s official website has scant information about potentially high aircraft capabilities, such as good maneuverability, long-term supersonic cruising flight mode, measures to ensure low radar visibility, etc. “The aircraft has a wide range of weapons both in the air-to-air class and in the air-to-surface class, which provides the solution to fighter and attack tasks,” the resource notes. On the website of the manufacturer of the machine (KnAAZ) information and even less. It is almost none.
You can, of course, recall the numerous statements of officials with lengthy formulations and frankly unrealistic deadlines for implementation. The price of such statements is well known to all. Recall, however, that at one time Boris Obnosov, Director General of the Tactical Missile Weapons Corporation, stated that fourteen types of weapons were developed specifically for the Su-57, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles on the target, as well as adjustable bombs.
Say - one thing to do - more. Especially since the discharge of ammunition from the internal compartment (especially at supersonic speeds) requires long trials. It is much more difficult than integrating a bomb or a rocket into external holders.
Surprisingly, some quite respected experts and publications, talking about the Su-57, cite highly speculative characteristics of the machine taken from Wikipedia. From all there listed with confidence it is possible to judge several things. First, a production aircraft based on the T-50 is likely to have both internal and external holders. With an emphasis, naturally, on the first option, because in the second case it will be possible to put an end to stealth. Second, and more importantly, the aircraft will receive four internal compartments:
- two side (BGrO). Here, short-range air-to-air missiles will be placed;
- two main (OGRO). They will have medium-range air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons.
All of these compartments can be seen on the prototype aircraft. Will something change on the serial version? Probably not. In any case, the number and general arrangement of the weapon compartments will remain the same. No wonder some experts proudly call the aircraft "an early pre-production sample." Indeed, it has already outgrown the stage of the early prototype, and will not change conceptually. About the installation of engines of the second stage instead of the usual AL-41F1 we are not talking now: this is a topic for a separate discussion.
Point one. Concept
By the way, about the concept. There is a misconception that it is impossible to compare the Su-57, F-22 and F-35. Like, different cars. And the default domestic fighter is much more multi-purpose. There is some truth in this, but you should not take this thought literally. Perhaps the aircraft will be such in the future, but now we do not know all its capabilities. It is worth saying that “Raptor” and “Lighting”, contrary to popular opinion, have quite wide opportunities for hitting ground targets. Although several lose on the aggregate potential of the same F-15E (if we assume that the enemy does not have modern anti-aircraft missile systems and detection tools).
We will analyze in more detail. The F-22 fighter, in addition to two 450-kg GBU-32 JDAM bombs, can work on the ground with the help of miniature munitions GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb with a range of more than 100 kilometers. In total, eight units can be placed in the internal compartments. In turn, modifications of the “Lightning” for marines and fleet - F-35B and F-35C - should in the foreseeable future receive even more advanced GBU-53 / B. This is the next generation of Small Diameter Bomb, which in theory will be able to hit ground targets very effectively using an infrared homing head.
Due to the low price and small size of Small Diameter Bomb, many experts consider the most promising aviation strike weapons. In other words, we can say that the fifth-generation American fighters and the Su-57 will not differ conceptually. Ideally, each of them should be a multi-purpose machine, capable of effectively combating both air and ground targets.
Point two. Air-to-air missiles
There are two misconceptions that can not be invested in a single paragraph. Some believe that the aircraft will not be able to carry weapons inside, and the compartments exist only "for window dressing." It makes no sense to criticize this lack of professionalism. There are shots of the Ministry of Defense, in which the Su-57 launches a rocket from the OGPO. There is also information from reliable sources about earlier missile launches during testing (it is impossible, however, to check them).
Another thesis is perhaps more interesting. A number of experts are trying to "shove" into the main compartments of six, and sometimes eight medium-range missiles. Meanwhile, the estimated dimensions of the HGRO in the amount of the known dimensions of the missile weapons suggest that in the main compartments the aircraft can carry up to Four medium-range air-to-air missiles.
During tests on external holders of T-50, products of the RVV-AE family (or models of this rocket) were noticed. Probably, they, and to be more precise their modifications, the 180 product and the 180-DB product will become the basis of the fighter’s armament. In each of the two side compartments, most likely, one RVV-MD short-range missile will be placed. Thus, the entire air-to-air missile is probably will be six. And it will be short-range and medium-range missiles.
Integration into a complex of ultra-long-range missiles, such as the P-37M or semi-mythical KS-172, looks more foggy. It seems generally doubtful that the functions of the MiG-31 will be completely shifted onto the shoulders of the 57. These are machines of different classes after all. It is not known how many such ultra-long-range missiles will be placed in the internal compartments of the Su-57.
Point three. Work on ground targets
As we have already noted, the Su-57 was never created as an uncompromising air fighter. And recently, the media said that the aircraft will be able to use the newest Drel bomb, which is capable of planning 30 kilometers and destroying targets with self-targeting combat elements. The mass of the planning bomb cassette in the equipment of self-targeting combat elements is 500 kilograms. Recall that the homing elements in the composition of aviation ammunition have previously used both the United States and the Russian Federation.
On tests on the T-50 could be seen on the external holders of the X-31 family of rocket. There are anti-ship (X-31А) and anti-radar (X-31П) missile variants. Earlier, the Defense Ministry said that the missiles are going to be installed both on external holders and in internal compartments. For all its merits, a rocket looks too big for such an aircraft. This is not surprising, considering that it was developed in the USSR. It is quite obvious that the fifth generation fighter needs not so big ammunition. Otherwise, either a) the stealthiness is lost (when using external holders); or b) the strike potential of the aircraft will be limited (due to the limited space in the internal compartments).
Most intriguing in this regard news there was information about the launch of promising multipurpose low-profile cruise missiles of operational and tactical purposes X-59MK2 from the internal compartments of the aircraft. The Russian Defense Ministry even presented a spectacular video about this. Contrary to the name, the X-59MK2 has little in common with the Soviet X-59 "Gadfly." The new rocket is an analogue of the new American AGM-158 JASSM. It has an inertial guidance system, integrated with an optical-electronic homing head and GPS / GLONASS systems. Estimated range - 500 kilometers. In other words, Su-57 will not have to enter the zone of attack of the enemy anti-aircraft missile systems.
In general, an inconspicuous aircraft equipped with a long-range inconspicuous missile is a powerful argument in any "dispute". Some even suggested equipping a nuclear warhead missile in the appendage to the cluster and penetrating warhead. On the other hand, until Russia has an analogue of relatively cheap JDAM and SBD bombs, talk about mass weapons air-to-surface class is difficult. The cost of missiles such as the X-31 and especially the X-59MK2, by default, is quite high.
Dangerous "five". What is armed Su-57
- Ilya Vedmedenko