Russia promotes its Su-57 (NATO: “Felon”) stealth aircraft at every opportunity, but it will never pose a serious threat to NATO for a very simple reason. Russia has the same problem that Nazi Germany had in World War II.
Recently, Moscow Defense Minister Sergei Shigu said the Su-57 had been used “brilliantly” in Ukraine. There is, however, little evidence to support his claim.
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The Su-57 Felon is probably a high-performance aircraft. Even if it outperformed the American F-22 or F-35 models, Russia’s aircraft would not pose much of a threat to those models because of the very small number in which it is available. Moscow has only 16 units in active service and would receive 22 more aircraft by the end of 2024. In 2028 the number of Su-57s in Russian service would reach 76.
It’s hard to believe, however, that these production targets will be met because of harsh sanctions imposed by the West. Russia no longer has access to advanced electronic components, which are not produced domestically, and many brains have fled the country since the outbreak of war in Ukraine. No wonder the Russian Federation is unable to meet its drone needs on the Ukrainian front from domestic production and has to buy unmanned aircraft from Iran of questionable quality.
By comparison, the US has over 600 stealth aircraft in active service, mostly F-35 and F-22 models. Its NATO allies also operate several dozen units. In the event of a Russia vs NATO conflict, we would be faced with a situation similar to that of World War II when German Tiger tanks, engineering marvels but few in number, were wiped out by American Sherman models available in much greater numbers.