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CONFIRMED: Russia’s SU-57 fifth generation fighter entering production next year

Alexander Mercouris

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Russia has confirmed that the SU-57’s test programme is now complete with production of the first batch due to start in the Gagarin factory in Komsomolsk-na-Amur in Khabarovsk region in Russia’s Far East next year.

As discussed previously, the first batch will number just twelve aircraft, and will be powered by the current AL-41F1 engine used in the trial programme.  Starting from 2020 all future batches will use the new Isdeliye 30 engine, which has now been flight tested on the second prototype.

Some information has now been provided about the new Isdeliye 30 engine.

Photographs of the engine on the engine on the second prototype show that it is significantly shorter than the previous AL-41F1 engine (see caption picture), a fact which should improve its stealth performance significantly, and that it uses rounded thrust-vectoring serrated nozzles, which should also improve its stealth performance whilst making the SU-57 highly manoeuvrable.

The engine’s general designer has been identified as an engineer called Yevgeny Marchukov working at NPO Saturn in Rybinsk.

The engine will use the Lyulka brand name used by all engines used by Sukhoi fighter aircraft since the 1950s.  This is taken from the name of Arkhip Lyulka, who was the engineer who was chief designer of all engines used to power Sukhoi aircraft from the 1950s until his death in 1984, including the AL-31 which powers the SU-27 and a developed version of which (the AL-41F1) also powers the current SU-35 and will power the first batch of twelve SU-57s.

A report in the Russian publication Air and Cosmos says that the engine has a compression ratio of 6.7, that air flow is 21-23 kg / s. and that temperature of the gases in front of the turbine reaches 1950-2100 degrees Kelvin.  Maximum thrust is put at 17-18 tons, less than claimed by some other sources but still significantly more than the 15 tons for the AL-41F1.

There are some claims that the SU-57 with the new engine can achieve a supercruise speed without afterburner of Mach 2.1.  By comparison the US F-22 can achieve a supercruise speed without afterburner of Mach 1.82.

If so then that bears out Russian claims that the SU-57 has the best performance of any fifth generation fighter either planned or in production.

Recently an article by Dmitry Gorenburg claimed that the SU-57 with its new Isdeliye 30 engine will not enter service with the Russian Aerospace Forces before 2027.  This appears to be based on the assumption that development of the Isdeliye 30 only began recently.

In reality development of the Isdeliye 30 engine seems to have begun in 2009 or possibly even earlier, and (as I have discussed previously) it may also have drawn on some of the work done for the aborted AL-41 project of the 1980s.

This means that the Isdeliye 30’s development is much more advanced than Gorenburg seems to realise, with the Russians slating production of the new engine to begin in 2020 or even sooner.

Meanwhile the Russians are claiming that the fact that the SU-57 is appearing later than the F-22 and the F-35 means that it is benefitting from technological advances which place it well ahead of these aircraft,

Here for example is how Sputnik reports what a seemingly well-informed military journalist Vladimir Tuchkov has to say about the SU-57’s weapons and systems as compared with those of the F-22 and F-35 (note that he refers to the SU-57 by its previous designation T-50)

[The] T-50’s delayed start behind both the F-22 and the F-35 worked out perfectly for the developers of the plane’s onboard radar systems, giving them access to fundamentally new electronic components and technologies which were unavailable ten or even five years before. “Furthermore, Russian designers were able to take into account, as far as possible, the experience of the F-22’s radar,” the journalist wrote.

“First, it must be said that the angle of the T-50’s active phased array is installed on an incline. Because of this, the aircraft’s rcs is reduced. Going with this design, which also makes possible a reduction in power usage during operation, was made possible thanks to the excellent characteristics of the N036 Belka radar, developed to replace the N035 Irbis passive phased array antenna system.

The N036 is more effective than the N035, Tuchkov noted, but even the earlier system “remains very convincing when compared with the US AN/APG-77 radar. The Russian system finds targets with an rcs of 1 square meter at distances up to 300 km. The American radar, meanwhile, does the same up to 225 km. For targets with an rcs of 0.01 square meters, the Russian radar’s range is 90 km. For the US system these figures are not available.”

Altogether, the T-50 has six radars onboard – including one on the plane’s nose, two on its sides, two on the wings and one in the aft section. They are capable of monitoring up to 60 targets at once, and targeting up to 15.

“In addition to the radar-based visibility, the T-50 features the OLS-50M optic-electronic sensor system, which includes a thermal scanner using a QWIP-matrix with unique resolution and range characteristics. In this area…Russia is considered to be the absolute world leader,” the military observer stressed. A similar system, which enables the pilot to detect targets which have their radar systems turned off, is fitted on the F-35, albeit the US design has a smaller range. The F-22 does not have this technology.

If there is one advantage of the F-35’s avionics to speak of, “it is the pilot’s helmet, which makes the aircraft ‘transparent,’” Tuchkov wrote. “That is, visibility is not limited by the cockpit windows. The whole panorama of the surrounding area is displayed in the pilot’s visors, in both the visible and the infrared spectrum. Monitoring the pilot’s head and eye movements, the computer provides the necessary panoramic viewpoint and provides the pilots with tips, and manages targeting.”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when it comes to armaments, here the T-50 stands out, according to the observer.

Among all the world’s existing and prospective fifth-generation fighter aircraft, “the T-50 has the most extensive missile and bomb arsenal. A total of 14 high-precision missiles and smart bombs have been developed specifically for the plane. Half have already been adopted into service; the other half are undergoing testing. The KS-172, the longest-range air-to-air missile, has a maximum range up to 400 km. This is double that of the US AIM-120D missile, which has a maximum range of 180 km.”

As for air-to-surface missiles, here too the T-50 has systems that are “at the forefront of engineering solutions,” Tuchkov noted. “Using them, the pilot has the opportunity to conduct a ‘free hunt’, with the missiles themselves choosing targets independently. The US planes, meanwhile, use missiles developed in the early 2000s, and modernized in the 2010s in the best case scenario.”
Time will show how much truth there is to these claims.  The one point I would make is that by general agreement the Soviet MiG-31 and SU-27 fighters were more advanced when they appeared in the early 1980s than the roughly analogous US F-14 and F-15 fighters which had appeared earlier in the 1970s precisely because the MiG-31 and SU-27 benefitted from technological advances which took place following the entries into service of the F-14 and F-15.  Perhaps the same thing will happen with the SU-57.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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Vladimir Putin calls new Ukrainian church ‘dangerous politicking’

President Putin said creation of the “Orthodox Church in Ukraine” is against Church canon and that the West drove Constantinople to do it.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In an interview with the Serbian newspapers Politika and Vecernje Novosti ahead of his visit to Serbia, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, a schismatic agglomeration headed by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists was “dangerous politicking.” He further noted that:

The establishment of the new religious entity in Ukraine is nothing but an attempt “to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.”

“Yet, hardly anyone in the U.S. or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this,” Putin said.

“Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking,” he said.

President Putin had more things to say in the interview, and we present what he said in full here (emphasis ours), as reported on the Kremlin.ru website:

Question: The Serbian Orthodox Church has taken the side of the Russian Orthodox Church in the context of the ecclesiastical crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, a number of countries are exerting pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew and seek to ensure recognition of Ukrainian ”schismatics“ by Local Orthodox Churches. How do you think the situation will evolve?

Vladimir Putin: I would like to remind your readers, who are greatly concerned about the information regarding the split in the Orthodox community but are probably not fully aware of the situation in Ukraine, what it is all about.

On December 15, 2018, the Ukrainian leaders, actively supported by the USA and the Constantinople Patriarchate, held a so-called “unifying synod”. This synod declared the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, with Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos (decree) granting it autocephaly on January 6, 2019. Thus, it was attempted to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.

Yet, hardly anyone in the US or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this, as the new church entity is an entirely political, secular project. Its main aim is to divide the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, sowing seeds of ethnic as well as religious discord. No wonder Kiev has already declared ”obtaining complete independence from Moscow.”

Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking. Likewise, we do not speak about the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is de-facto fully controlled by Istanbul. Whereas Ukraine’s largest canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has never requested autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew, is absolutely independent in its actions. Its connection with the Russian Orthodox Church is purely canonical – but even this causes undisguised irritation of the current Kiev regime.

Because of this, clergymen and laymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being persecuted and deprived of churches and monasteries, and attempts are made to deny the Church its legitimate name, which raises tensions and only leads to further discord in Ukrainian society.

Evidently, Ukraine’s leaders have to understand that any attempts to force the faithful into a different church are fraught with grave consequences. Yet, they are eager to put interconfessional concord in the country at stake in order to conduct the election campaign of the current Ukrainian President based on a search for enemies, and to retain power by all means.

All of this does not go unnoticed by Orthodox Christians.

Naturally, Russia does not intend to interfere in ecclesiastical processes, especially those happening on the territory of a neighboring sovereign state. However, we are aware of the danger posed by such experiments and blatant interference of the state in religious affairs.

The situation continues to degrade in Ukraine, and though the Orthodox faithful of the Autonomous but Moscow-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church are the hardest hit, worry over Ukrainian lawlessless-made-law has the Jewish community in that country nervous as well. This is perhaps to be expected as the Azov Brigade, a neo-Nazi aligned group that is hypernationalist, is a good representation of the character of the “hate Russia at all costs” Ukrainian nationalists. A parallel piece in Interfax made note of this in a piece dated January 17th 2019:

[A] bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada introducing a procedure by which parishes can join the new Ukrainian church makes it easier to seize places of worship, and supporters of autocephaly have already started doing this across the country, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said.

“They need this law to seize our churches. You can’t just come with a crowbar to someone else’s barn, but now the law allows you to do so. They aren’t creating something of their own, but are trying to steal what’s ours,” Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vasyl Anisimov told Interfax on Thursday.

The religious entity set up in December with Constantinople’s involvement and called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “in fact doesn’t yet exist in nature. It’s fake. It doesn’t have any parishes of its own or government registration,” he said.

However, “the supporters of autocephaly don’t have plans to create anything of their own at all, so they have chosen the path of takeover, and the authorities are helping them in that,” Anisimov said.

“Hence, the legislation passed by the Verkhovna Rada today is in fact absolute lawlessness,” he said.

“If you pass legislation affecting an industry, you should talk to industrialists, and if it’s legislation on the agricultural sector, talk to farmers. And here legislation on a church is passed, and moreover, this legislation is aimed against this church, it is protesting, and Jews are protesting, too, because this legislation may affect them as well – but nobody is listening, and they change the law for the sake of an absolutely absurd and unconstitutional gimmick. But, of course, it’s the people who will ultimately suffer,” Anisimov said.

 

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According to Ukraine, the Crimean Bridge doesn’t exist (VIDEO)

Ukraine tries to deny the reality of the completion and soundness of the Crimean Bridge, though Ukraine was unable to build it, itself.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia’s VESTI News is truly an entertaining channel at times. This news service is strongly supported by the Russian government, and one of the criticisms it receives from Russian people is that it is an “extreme” propaganda house, telling all manner of crazy stories to distract its watchers’ attention away from the real problems that Russian people face at home.

No doubt there is truth to this, as this is a technique certainly duplicated in the US, Great Britain and elsewhere. Every nation has the right to its own propaganda. However, Vesti also seems to have a lot of fun making fun of other nations’ propaganda, and here they found a great one. Apparently, Ukraine’s propaganda ministry is trying to make the assertion that the Crimean Bridge collapsed and its debris is floating around in the Kerch Strait, “with the tectonic plates.”

See for yourself.

According to Ukrainian scientists and even “psychics”, this bridge is doomed to fall into the Kerch Strait once a sufficient earthquake hits it. Some claims appear even to say that the bridge already is not there, or at least, is not there in the way the Russian news sources have described it.

Of course, the VESTI team erupts into its famous snark, talking about how the bridge is very much alive and well and that it is the new “pride of Russia,” and so on.

This bridge is indeed quite an engineering feat, being completed only about three years after the rejoining / annexation / invasion / hostile takeover / or was it a voluntary referendum? of Crimea to the Russian Federation. This is a rapid speed for such a major project, but it is not very unusual for such projects to progress rather quickly when they are done with a will.

Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai) is presently by far the tallest building in the world, reaching skyward 828 meters, over half a mile into the sky. It took a little over four years to construct this landmark building, and it was done steadily and with a will to completion. Its would-be successor is not having as smooth an experience, for the Jeddah Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has hit problems, and even though this tower is projected to go only about 130 meter higher (reaching a significant milestone of one kilometer tall), its construction started in 2013, and as of the latest update, only 63 floors are completed.

The Crimean Bridge was built with a will to make a point, presumably to Ukraine, the rest of Russia and the world:

This is the New Russia. Look what we can do!

And, they did a marvelous feat of engineering in a very short time.

VESTI indeed does try to make some people feel better by pointing out the problems of other countries. Sometimes that is a distraction. But sometimes it is worth a serious bit of consideration.

Ukraine has a leader most of its people apparently cannot stand, who is a warmonger and a crybaby at the same time, begging the West for help while breathing threats against Russia.

While there are no doubt many, many wonderful people there trying to do wonderful things, it does seem to be that the country is suffering because of its willingness to be a pawn of the West. Russia is feeling the Western squeeze and it is not pleasant, but the Russians also seem to know that they can get themselves through this, and so they have reason to be glad when the country makes a good accomplishment such as the Crimean Bridge. The political and geopolitical importance of this project is such that it is very likely that all sorts of great engineering went into the bridge. It is prudent, and Russians seem to understand prudence very, very well.

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