The Su-35 is Russia’s ace fighter after the Su-57. Even after the medium-sized fifth-generation Su-75 comes out, its combat effectiveness can rank second. Especially after China purchased 24 Su-35s, the advertising effect was good, attracting Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, Turkey, Iran, and other countries to snap up. Even Russia once offered an upgrade to the Su-35 with stealth technology.
After Su-35 participate in the Syrian war, it was proven battle-worthy. Egypt alone purchased 24 aircraft, worth more than 2 billion US dollars, and Indonesia purchased 11 aircraft at a price of 1.14 billion US dollars. Russia was so happy that it has even produced 17 Su-35s for Egypt, ready for delivery.
However, just recently, some netizens shared photos of a batch of Su-35SE fighter jets with blue-gray split camouflage at the Gagarin Aircraft Factory. This is the model ordered by Egypt. However, the numbers and insignia on the plane were manually erased. This is too abnormal. Generally speaking, when export fighter jets leave the factory, they are painted with the customer’s military emblem. I wish you know, why there are no or insignia on plane
In addition, when the aircraft is delivered, usually a few are built and then hurried to the customer’s home in order to serve as soon as possible, just like India’s purchase of the Rafale from France, all four and five are delivered at a time.
There are only two explanations for this, that is, there is a major problem with the quality of the aircraft, and it will be returned to the factory or the business may have turned yellow. The problem is not only the 24 Su-35SE ordered by Egypt, but also the 11 ordered by Indonesia, which were officially cancelled at the end of 2021 due to pressure from the United States.
It turned out that in order to engage in unfair competition in the international arms market, the United States specifically introduced the “Countering America’s Enemies with Sanctions Act” in January 2018, which lists any national entity that tries to purchase Russian weapons as the target of sanctions. In this way, users can only choose between American weapons and Russian weapons, and cannot achieve coexistence. Indonesia’s main fighter aircraft is the F-16, which also has a major interest relationship with the United States, so it has no choice but to cancel the order for the Su-35.
What makes Russia even more sad is that Algeria, an iron fan of Russian-made fighter jets, is also retreating. The main equipment of the Algerian Air Force is all Russian-made fighters, including the heavy Su-30MKA, and the mid weight MiG-29 and MiG-29M. In addition, there are some Su-24M front-line bombers and MiG-25 heavy interceptors.
It is speculated that the reason for Algeria’s rejection of the Su-35 is not political considerations, but mainly because the performance of the Su-35 cannot attract it, and it cannot be compared with the Su-30MKA that has been equipped before, especially in the 2020s. Today, the Su-35 does not even have an active phased array radar, and there is a big gap with the fighters of other countries, and its price is very expensive, with a unit price of around $85 million, nearly same as US F-35.
Now there are only two countries left that may purchase Su-35, only Turkey and Iran. Turkey also has a large amount of American equipment. If the United States has to use the “Countering America’s Enemies with Sanctions Act” to exert pressure, Turkey will definitely not be able to withstand it. Although the relationship between the two has fallen to the bottom now, in many aspects, Turkey still has to rely on the United States.
Therefore, the only customer of Su-35 now can only count on Iran. For so many years, Iran has been sanctioned by the United States, and it does not care that there is another “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”. The outside world speculated that Russia scraped off the serial number and military emblem of the 17 Egyptian versions of the Su-35SE that had been produced, in order to repaint the number and sell it to Iran.
Therefore, international arms trade has never been a simple issue, but a comprehensive contest involving various factors such as politics, economy and technology. Unfortunately, in this contest, Russia is increasingly losing ground in almost every way, and the Su-35 is not the first, nor will it be the last.