The Southern Military District will be strengthened by Su-35 fighters. It is planned that the first vehicles will enter service with the air regiment in the Rostov region. The super-maneuverable “thirty-fifths” with a powerful radar will remain the most advanced air fighter in Russia until the mass appearance of the fifth-generation Su-57 in service. Su-35 will be able to cover the Black Sea coast, Crimea and the North Caucasus. Placing them there will help curb NATO activity in the region, experts say.
The latest Su-35S will equip the squadron of the 31st Fighter Aviation Regiment in Millerovo, Rostov Region, sources in the defense department told Izvestia. Pilot training for them has already begun. Previously, there were no aircraft of this type in the Southern Military District (YuVO). Now the air regiment is armed with Su-30SM fighters.
In December 2020, the military department announced the receipt of a batch of three Su-35S. One of them remained in the Far East, and two flew to Lipetsk to the 4th Center for Combat Use and Retraining of Flight Personnel.
These three aircraft completed the execution of the contract concluded in 2015 for 50 production aircraft. At the Army-2021 forum, the Ministry of Defense signed a new contract with Irkut corporations for the supply of additional Su-35 fighters. Their number and other parameters of the document were not officially disclosed. But earlier, the head of the defense department Sergei Shoigu said that the cost of the order would be about 70 billion rubles.
According to military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the deployment of advanced fighters in the Southern Military District is a continuation of the necessary measures to strengthen the interspecific grouping that is being formed there.
“Such a grouping makes it possible to restrain the activity of NATO countries in the region by non-strategic and non-nuclear means,” Viktor Murakhovsky told Izvestia. – It is no secret that the North Atlantic Alliance involves in its activities in the southwestern and southern strategic directions not only the countries of the bloc, but also actively cooperating with them Ukraine and Georgia. In fact, every day, reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles of the alliance countries are located near our air borders over the Black Sea, near the Crimea, the Caucasian coast.
Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev
Russia cannot indifferently observe such activity and must increase its forces to repel possible provocations, and even more so NATO aggression, the expert said. According to him, it is within the framework of these measures that our Air Force in the Southern Military District is being strengthened, as well as the combined-arms grouping. A number of measures have been taken against our forces in Crimea and in other operational areas, concluded Viktor Murakhovsky.
“We already have the Su-57, but their mass production has just begun, while the Su-35 are armed with entire regiments,” Lieutenant General Valery Gorbenko, former commander of the 4th Air Force of the Air Force and Air Defense, told Izvestia. – Compared to the S-30SM, the capabilities of the military unit transferred to them will increase in reach, in the sighting complex, and in armament. Thirty-fifths are considered generation 4 ++ fighters, so they can withstand almost all types of NATO aircraft.
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The conflict in Syria has become the baptism of fire for the Su-35S. These fighters were not part of the original air group that arrived in the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) in September 2015. But they were sent there at the beginning of 2016, after the aggravation of relations with Turkey due to the downed Russian Su-24 bomber.
The plane was tested not only as an air fighter. Su-35s often hit ground targets. The military tested it in a wide variety of applications, with conventional and precision weapons. Among them are the KAB-500Kr passive homing bombs, the Kh-29TD guided missiles and even the Kh-35U anti-ship missiles, specially modified for strikes against ground targets. In some sorties, the combat load reached the maximum possible 8 tons.
Su-35S at the Khmeimim airbase in the Syrian province of Latakia
Photo: RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov
The fighters were also engaged in their main task. The command recruited them to escort Russian bombers over the SAR, including the long-range Tu-22M3 and strategic missile carriers Tu-95MS. They were also regularly sent to intercept foreign reconnaissance aircraft and drones watching our troops.
Now on the Su-35S, four fighter aviation regiments have been fully or partially re-equipped. The first to receive them were units located in the Far East, not far from the manufacturing plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Then they began to equip the Western Military District directly bordering on the territory of NATO member countries. Units in the Tver region and Karelia were transferred to them.
Generation 4 ++
The single-seat Su-35 is a distant descendant of the famous Su-27. It is classified as a transitional model from the fourth to the fifth generation of fighters, which is designated as 4 ++. Despite the external similarity, it is difficult to find components from its progenitor in it. Everything has been replaced – from engines to radar. The aircraft has turned into a multipurpose vehicle capable not only of attacking air targets, but also of delivering powerful ground strikes with precision and conventional weapons.
This fighter is distinguished from all other domestic models by the powerful radar N035 “Irbis” with a phased antenna array. It allows you to see another small aircraft from a distance of 400 km, and an “invisible” or stealthy cruise missile – from almost 100 km. Better performance only in the Su-57 radar – a representative of the fifth generation.
An advanced control system and powerful engines with three-dimensional thrust vector control allow the fighter to demonstrate aerobatics that are not available to foreign competitors.
Multipurpose fighters Su-27
Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev
The first experienced Su-35S took off in 2008. The very next year, even before the state tests were completed, the Ministry of Defense signed a contract with the Irkut corporation for the purchase of 48 fighters for the Russian Air Force. The contract for the second batch of 50 vehicles was signed in 2015.
Well-established serial production allowed simultaneously equipping the Russian Aerospace Forces with new aircraft and fulfilling export contracts for them. China acquired 24 Su-35s. The combat run-in of the “thirty-fifths” in the SAR allowed them to interest other foreign customers as well.
Su-35s have been delivered to Egypt since 2020. It was reported that, together with aviation ammunition, three dozen fighters cost this country about $ 2 billion. Contracts were also being worked out with Algeria and Indonesia.
Anton Lavrov Roman Kretsul