Russia’s Sukhoi SU-57: The F-22 Raptor Opponent That Is Stuck in Development

The F-22 Raptor and Su-57 Felon are cutting-edge aircraft with similar capabilities, but only one of them is in operational use today.
Sukhoi Design Bureau, 054, Sukhoi Su-57

Tensions between the United States and Russia haven’t calmed down, and the country’s two main air superiority fighters stand out for their parity of power.

Both aircraft are incredible and have great qualities that make them maneuverable, fast, and lethal to their enemies… and since they are state-of-the-art fighter jets, they’re difficult to shoot down.

But is the Su-57 better than an American F-22? Is the Russian aircraft more advanced compared to an American one?

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Sukhoi Su-57 Felon

Su-57
Russian Air Force, 052, 054, Sukhoi Su-57 by Anna Zvereva. Licensed under CC by 2.0

It is the first Russian-made stealth fighter developed by the Sukhoi Group for the Russian air force. This fifth-generation single-seat aircraft is highly maneuverable, quick, virtually invisible to radar, and highly capable.

The Sukhoi Su-57 was introduced in 2002, although its maiden experimental flight took place in 2010 and was finally delivered in 2019. Now, the Russian military has incorporated 11 of these fighters. 

This aircraft fulfills the attack roles of the fourth-generation MiG-29 and Su-27 employed by the Russian Air Force. Since it far exceeds the previous models, there are a lot of expectations about the Su-57.

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However, the Su-57 hasn’t yet been in combat. The issue with this fighter jet is that everything looks perfect on paper, but it hasn’t been tested in actual combat. Its production is so far behind schedule that it probably hasn’t even been used in a significant mission in the Russo-Ukrainian War.

Only a few units exist (rumored around 15 units), and they’re still in the testing stage, which has made it clear that even though the Russian government continuously exhibits and promotes this aircraft, it’s not yet fully operational.

The Russian air force would like to have 76 units by 2028. It seems like relatively low production numbers compared to the U.S., and the sanctions and war will probably cause even this small figure in their production to be reduced even further.

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Su-57 Specs

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 20.1 meters (65 feet 11 inches)
  • Wingspan: 14.1 meters (46 feet 3 inches)
  • Height: 4.6 meters (15 feet 1 inch)
  • Empty weight: 18,000 kilograms (39,683 pounds)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 35,000 kilograms (77,162 pounds)
  • Maximum speed: Match 2 (2,135 km/h or 1,327 mph)

F-22 Raptor

F22s transit through RAF Lakenheath
F22s transit through RAF Lakenheath by Christopher Sparks. Public Domain

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a stealth aircraft with the capacity to penetrate enemy airspace without being detected to attack its unsuspecting targets.

It was made in the 1990s and took its first test flight in 1997. But, it entered service in 2005 after years of stringent testing to validate its full capabilities.

Its first actual combat deployment was in 2014 when the U.S., employing F-22 Raptors, bombed the Islamic State in eastern Syria and western Iraq. Now, the US has 187 operational F-22s.

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F-22 Specs

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 18.92 meters (62 feet 1 inch)
  • Wingspan: 13.56 meters (44 feet 6 inches)
  • Height: 5.08 meters (16 feet 8 inches)
  • Empty weight: 19,700 kilograms (43,340 pounds)
  • Max takeoff weight: 38,000 kilograms (83,500 pounds)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.25 (1,500 mph or 2,414 km/h)

The structure is designed to withstand stress and air friction when flying at high speeds. This is due to the aircraft’s significant use of polymers in its structure, which is created to provide increased performance. It is s basically composed of 24% composite, 1% thermoplastic, 16% aluminum, and 39% titanium. This gives it a perfect mix between strength and weight.

F-22 vs Su-57

340th EARS connects with F22's
340th EARS connects with F22’s by Jerreht Harris. Public Domain.

The F-22 and Su-57 are fifth-generation fighters with excellent maneuverability and stealth capability.

Russia’s SU-57 fighter seems to be more versatile and a better fighter-bomber multirole aircraft than the F-22. However, the Su-57 is more of a promise than a concrete reality. The Su-57 theoretically looks as good as an F-22 Raptor, but since it is not in mass production, its actual performance cannot be evaluated.

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Unless proven otherwise, the F-22 Raptor seems superior to the Su-57 as its characteristics have been more than proven in combat, and its undetectability is well-known.

Both aircraft are world-class but the F-22 is battle tested

Due to its more sophisticated stealth technology and in-service experience, the Raptor is more likely to achieve victory.

The F-22 Raptor is one of the best aircraft of the USAF today. Its undetectability and maneuverability are quite good by today’s standards. Even if the Su-57 seems to be an excellent aircraft until the Su-57 is mass-produced and combat-proven, it’s very difficult to establish accurate comparisons with its performance on the battlefield.

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That’s why the F- 22 today seems to be a safer bet for the world’s best air superiority fifth-generation aircraft.


Feature image credit: Sukhoi Design Bureau, 054, Sukhoi Su-57 by Anna Zvereva Licensed under CC by 2.0