SUKHOI’S PROTOTYPE Su-35-1 multi-role fighter, ‘901 Blue’, undertook its first flight from Zhukovsky, near Moscow, on February 18. Built at the KnAAPO factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, it was completed in August 2007, just in time for the MAKS 2007 airshow. The aircraft was airfreighted to Zhukovsky inside an An-124 just before the show, where it was then placed on static display (see Sukhoi’s Su-35 Makes Its Debut, November, p20). Since then it had been completing a series of ground tests and was expected to have flown by November, but this was delayed by three months, for unknown reasons.
KnAAPO is currently assembling two more flight-test Su-35s — the second and fourth prototypes — at Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and both are expected to fly before the year-end. The third prototype will be a static test airframe. This latest variant of the Flanker family features a reshaped wing, two new advanced 31,9671b (142.196kN) thrust NPO Saturn 117S engines, the Tikhomirov NIIP Irbis-E advanced phased-array radar and a latest generation infra-red search and track system. The undercarriage has also been strengthened and twin nosewheels added to cater for the type’s increased take-off and landing weights.
Hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls are included in the modernized cockpit. The aircraft, which does away with the previous canard foreplanes, has supercruise capability and is designed for 6,000 flight hours or over 30 years of service life. Maximum weapon load will be 17,6361b (8,000kg), including unspecified new types of air-to-air and air-to-ground armament, which will be carried on 12 stores pylons.
An initial Russian Air Force order for an unspecified number of aircraft is reported to have been placed. Full-rate production is planned to begin next year, with first deliveries taking place from around 2010.