Developed by Russia's famous Sukhoi aircraft company, the Su-35 "Flanker" shares the same name as its predecessor the Su-27. Although it may be similar to original Flanker in look, it has been given vastly improved capabilities. One of the first superficial differences that one will note is the addition of canard forewings (first fitted on the Su-34 attack variant of the Su-27) that help give it increased agility for aerial combat.

Inside the Su-35 has really been spruced up, with the addition of an advanced N-011 radar that can track aircraft up to 250 miles away, and a passive infrared tracking system that allows it to detect without being detected. The radar can track up to fifteen targets simultaneously, and engage six or more at the same time, a capability equal to that of the American F-14 Tomcat. It also carries much more advanced weapons than the orinigal Flanker, the greatest of these being the large KS-172 missile which has a range of 250 miles, a distance unmatched by any western missile, including the AIM-54 carried by Tomcats. The purpose of the missile is to knock out AWACS radar aircraft from outside the range of escorting fighters. It also carries the R-73 missile which is more maneuverable than the Sidewinder generally carried on American fighters, because of the addition of thrust vectoring to the missile. When not armed with the advanced KS-172, the Su-35 has missile capabilities equal to those of the American F-15 Eagle, and the French Rafale; about 30 miles. Although with not quite the range of the F-15, the new Flanker can reach its maximum range with internal fuel alone while the Eagle must use external fuel tanks. The Flanker also has a large tail "stinger" that houses an ECM (Electronic Counter-Measures) system and a rear-looking radar. It also has a much more modern glass cockpit with video displays than the Su-27.

While the Su-27 was an advanced fighter for its day, the F-15 still probably would have come out on top in a fight. But the advanced and super-agile Su-35 will probably be the most advanced fighter in the sky until F-22 Raptors and Joint Strike Fighters are built and delivered. Unfortunately for Sukhoi, Russia currently cannot afford to purchase more than a few of the new advanced Flankers, and the aircraft has not met the same export success as the original Flanker, and the highly selling MiG-29.


Type: High-performance interceptor and fighter.

Powerplant: Two Saturn (Lyulka) AL-35MF turbofans each rated at 30,865 lbs. of thrust with afterburner.

Max Speed: Mach 2.35 or 1,555 mph.

Ceiling(Maximum Altitude): 59,000 ft.

Range: 2,300 miles at high altitude

Weights: Empty-40,500 lb.; loaded-57,300 lb.

Weapons: One GSh-30-1 30-mm cannon with 149 rounds; six R-27 "Alamo" and four AA-11 "Archer" missiles, or three KS-172 AAM-L ultra-long-range missiles.

Span 49 ft. 3 in.
Length 72 ft. 10 in.
Height 20 ft. 10 in.
Wing Area 517 sq. ft.

*Some of the information in this writeup was derived from "Aircraft of the World: A Complete Guide"