There are currently four operational stealth fighters in the world – the American F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, the Chinese J-20 and the Russian Su-57, writes US Marine Corps veteran Alex Hollings (Alex Hollings) in the Sandboxx blog.
The author calls the American aircraft the best of the fifth generation, while the Russian one is the worst.
The reviewer assures that after the J-20 receives new engines it will approach the capabilities of F-22 Raptor. In his opinion, the F-35 Lightning II, while not as maneuverable and long-range as the J-20 and F-22 Raptor, is “an incredibly cunning flying supercomputer.”
“The Russian Su-57 is widely regarded as the least stealthy of the fifth-generation aircraft, but the fighter is not just about effective dispersion area,” the author writes.
Hollings writes that a head-to-head comparison of the four current fifth-generation fighters cannot be considered fair, as each of these aircraft was created for specific missions and applications within a specific strategy. Still, the author writes that “the Su-57 may be the worst fifth-generation fighter on the planet.” “But that doesn’t make it a bad fighter at all,” the reviewer assures.
Among the problems that have accompanied the Su-57, the author cites in particular the collapse of the USSR, which led to the first fifth-generation fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, coming from the United States rather than Russia, and the end of cooperation with India, which remained dissatisfied with the Su-57’s stealth performance.
The publication attributes the sending of Russian fifth-generation aircraft to Syria to getting “fodder for headlines and a few promotional photos.”
The author recalls that the first Su-57 to be adopted by the Russian Defense Ministry crashed in December 2019, which was “a huge blow to Russia’s fragile reputation as a global military power.”
Among other problems facing the development of the Su-57, the columnist cites the lack of a second-stage engine on current aircraft, as well as Western sanctions imposed on Russia, which allegedly prevented the installation of modern avionics on the fighter.
Nevertheless, Hollings writes, the Su-57 remains the most maneuverable fifth-generation fighter and is second only to the F-22 Raptor in terms of cruising speed.
“The Su-57 may not be the leader among stealth fighters, but it does not need to be to pose a threat,” the author concludes.
In August 2020, analysts Ryan Bauer and Peter Wilson, in an article for the U.S. research organization RAND, declared the Su-57 a fourth-generation fighter jet that has experienced “numerous problems and failures.”
In July of the same year, a publication by China’s Global Times called the American F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II as well as the Chinese J-20, but not the Russian Su-57, as fifth-generation fighters. The internationally oriented publication, which is overseen by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, cited the opinion of Yang Wei, deputy director for science and technology of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and general designer of the J-20.