Despite mass production, Russia’s fifth-generation Su-57 fighter remains an experimental platform with continuously improved characteristics.
However, there are two revolutionary and less talked about developments designed to improve Russia’s newest fighter jet’s manoeuvrability. This will greatly increase the Su-57’s chances of victory in a dogfight against any enemy, said Military Watch.
The ability to change direction easily and quickly was a trademark of Soviet and Russian fighters, starting at least with the first fourth-generation fighters.
The first prototypes of the Su-57 resembled the Su-35 – long held the title of the most manoeuvrable fighter in the world. Fifth-generation aerospace technology can improve them with more powerful engines and composite airframe, helping to optimize the thrust-to-weight ratio.
However, the perfection of technology lies in the human factor. No pilot is able to withstand an overload of more than 9G – he will simply pass out. Russian engineers intend to overcome this limitation in two ways.
First, in parallel with the manned version of the Su-57, an unmanned version is also being created – in May 2020, it was reported that a robot fighter was equipped with AI. The test has already started.
The press claims that the pilot on the ground will control the drone manually during the most difficult phase of flight: take off and land, the rest of the time, the pilot’s function will be monitoring the status of onboard systems.
Another more radical method is liquid breathing. The overburden problem is that the lungs are forced out of the air, the brain is oxygen-starved, and the pilot faints. This problem can be solved by teaching pilots to breathe oxygen-enriched liquids instead of gas – this is how infants breathe in the womb.
Russia’s Advanced Research Foundation has developed liquid breathing technology since 2016. It helps divers avoid hypotension when going up urgently from depth. In the aerospace industry, liquid breathing will bring the manned fighter features closer to the drone.
There is a good reason for the pursuit of manoeuvrability of Russian designers. During the big war, long-range air-to-air missiles can be unreliable. Electronic jamming, destroying satellites, and attacking the network will lead to the fact that fighters cannot remotely determine which target is an enemy and which is not (this is a problem facing US airlines. during the Gulf War).
This will force the pilots to target with the naked eye, that is, to get closer to them. And in melee combat, a more manoeuvrable fighter will have a significant advantage.
Manoeuvrability also increases the probability of a vehicle’s survival in long-range battles, as an agile fighter has a better chance of evading a ground-launched missile or other aircraft.