A pair of Su-57s at the air parade on May 9, 2018. The leading vehicle (right) carries two underwing pylons. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
Like any other fighter, the promising Su-57 is primarily a weapon carrier. The main task of such an aircraft is to deliver aviation means of destruction (ASP) to the line of application with the subsequent defeat of the target. The Su-57 has to deal with a wide range of air, ground and surface targets, which makes special demands on its armament range, and also affects the design of the aircraft.
During the development of the "Perspective aviation complex of front-line aviation", both mastered ideas and new solutions were used. Like older fighters, the Su-57 has a built-in cannon and several nodes for the suspension of missile and bomb weapons. At the same time, for the first time on a domestic fighter, internal compartments are used to accommodate the ASP.
Su-57 received four compartments at once for weapons... The two main ones are large in size and occupy most of the fuselage length. They are offered for transporting and dropping larger ASPs such as medium and long-range air-to-air missiles, large-caliber bombs, etc. At the edges of the center section, there are two additional reduced-volume cargo compartments that can accommodate only one missile of limited dimensions. The compartments are equipped with special ejection devices that lead a missile or bomb out of the airframe.
AFAR radar N036 "Belka". Photo Wikimedia Commons
An external suspension is also provided. The wing has assemblies for mounting four removable pylons. A pair of similar devices are attached under the nacelles. The use of an external suspension allows you to increase the ammunition being transported, however, it worsens the visibility indicators.
According to various sources, the maximum combat load of the Su-57 can reach 14-16 tons. In the past, it has been repeatedly indicated that the aircraft will be able to use both existing weapons and advanced models. The development of 14 new ASPs of different classes was mentioned. Some of them have now gained prominence, while others seem to be still under development.
Dissolve wing with cannon hatches. Photo by UAC / Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
The aircraft is equipped with a developed sighting and navigation system of all-round visibility, capable of detecting and tracking a large number of targets in the air and on the surface. In addition, the aircraft is super-maneuverable. All these devices and capabilities are actually intended for the effective use of the ASP and the solution of the combat mission.
A 30-mm automatic cannon 9A1-4071K (a modernized version of the old and well-deserved GSh-301) is used as built-in and permanent armament. A gun with up to 150 rounds of ammunition is placed in the right wing overhang. To improve aerodynamics and protection from radiation, the muzzle of the gun has a movable cover.
The prototype plane demonstrates the bottom. The outlines of the hatches of the main cargo compartments and protruding side elements are visible. Photo Wikimedia Commons
The cannon armament has passed all the necessary checks at the stand and on the carrier aircraft. Recently, a video of test firing from an airplane at the stand has been freely available. The gun showed the required characteristics of accuracy and accuracy. Accordingly, the fighter gets the opportunity to attack various targets with a high probability of destruction. The effectiveness of the use of the weapon is additionally increased due to modern sighting and navigation devices, aircraft control systems and super-maneuverability.
For aerial purposes
The main tasks of the Su-57 are to intercept enemy aircraft and gain air superiority. Air-to-air missiles of various types with a wide range of characteristics should be used to combat air targets. Depending on the tasks assigned, the characteristics of the departure and other factors, the missiles can be suspended in the inner compartments and under the wing.
Side cargo compartments of limited dimensions are designed to accommodate short-range missiles RVV-MD. The main compartments can accommodate any types of weapons, including medium and long-range RVV-SD and RVV-BD products. According to known estimates, up to 8 RVV-SD missiles or 6 larger and heavier RVV-BD missiles can be transported in two compartments.
Advanced air-to-air missiles. In the foreground is the RVV-BD product, followed by the RVV-SD. Photo Vitalykuzmin.net
Apparently, the range of air-to-air ammunition is not limited to these three products. The Su-57 should be able to use all current missiles, including fairly old samples. In addition, it is known about the development of new weapons, which in the future will complement and replace the current models.
Using only missiles of known types, the Su-57 is capable of attacking and successfully hitting aircraft and other air targets over a wide range of ranges. So, RVV-MD missiles of various modifications allow you to shoot at 20-40 km, and the range of the RVV-BD product is declared at 400 km. The aircraft's own PrNK and the ability to interact with other means of the armed forces make it possible to fully realize the potential of such weapons.
As a fighter-bomber, the Su-57 is capable of effectively attacking ground targets using missile and bomb weapons. It is known that a number of air-to-surface guided ASPs have been integrated into the armament complex. Probably, the aircraft is able to use unguided systems, and a modern PrNK should provide the highest possible accuracy and efficiency.
Open sources reported on the ability of the Su-57 to carry guided bombs with a caliber of up to 1500 kg. There must be compatibility with different guidance tools.
Kh-38MLE air-to-surface missile. Photo Wikimedia Commons
The development of rocket systems continues. For modern and promising front-line aviation, the Kh-38 air-to-ground missile has been developed in several modifications with different guidance principles and different combat units. In the recent past, new modifications of the Kh-58 missile have been created for transportation in internal compartments. The appearance of the next modifications of existing missiles and fundamentally new models is expected.
Air-to-surface armament of existing types allows the Su-57 to attack a variety of ground and surface targets. The range of ammunition includes ASPs designed to defeat troop concentrations, command posts, various weapons systems, radio-technical complexes, etc. There are also anti-ship munitions. The range of destruction with the use of available ATS ranges from several kilometers for aerial bombs to 200-250 km for missiles of the latest models.
For obvious reasons, the main part of the tactical and technical characteristics and combat capabilities of the Su-57 fighter is still classified. But with a certain regularity, certain details are officially announced, allowing you to gradually compose the overall picture. To date, a sufficient amount of open data on the Su-57 armament complex has been accumulated, which allows us to draw some conclusions.
The Su-57 will be able to control the Okhotnik drones, which also carry weapons. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
The well-known range of weapons allows us to consider the Su-57 as a full-fledged multipurpose aviation complex capable of solving a wide range of combat missions. It is possible to conduct air combat at any distance in order to intercept or gain superiority. Also, the aircraft can attack various ground and surface targets. At the same time, the possibility of simultaneous suspension of weapons of different classes for one sortie is provided.
It is obvious that the development of the "Perspective aviation complex of front-line aviation" will continue, incl. due to the development and adoption of new types of ASP. They will complement or replace existing weapons with understandable positive consequences for the overall combat capabilities of the aircraft. In addition, in the foreseeable future, the Su-57 will be supplemented by the heavy S-70 Okhotnik UAV, capable of carrying weapons and operating at the command of the aircraft.
Thus, the serial Su-57 for combat units will initially have the highest combat potential, and as the service continues, it will only grow. Unfortunately, the latest fighters have not yet reached full service, but it is already clear what the future of these aircraft and their weapons will be like.