On February 19, 2008 at 11:25 Moscow time the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E advanced multi-role fighter made its first flight. Flown by Sukhoi test pilot Sergey Bogdan from Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow, the test flight lasted 50 minutes and the set flight program was performed in full. The new “Super Flanker” is expected to be delivered to the Russian Air Force in 2010 and reach initial operating capability in 2011. Currently, another two planes are completed and are to join the first prototype in a series of test flights. The Su-35 will enter service under the name Su-27SM2.
Su-35 is not a new name in the world of Russian fighters. The name first appeared in 1992, when Su-35 was paraded at various international airshows as a modernized export version of the well known Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. The new Su-35 is still a modernized variant of the Su-27 using all of the solution implemented in earlier models, such as the Su-30. One of the main design features of the Su-27 family of aircraft in general is super agility, and the Su-35 was designed to better its brothers. Two new Saturn 117S engines equip the Super Flanker. The 117S is an upgraded variant of the AL-31F engine, and produces 14,500 kg maximum thrust, a 16% increase over the older engine. It features a fan 3% larger in diameter (932 mm versus 905 mm), advanced high and low pressure turbines, an all-new digital control system, and provisions for thrust-vectoring nozzles similar to the AL-31FP.
The independent asymmetric thrust vectored nozzles are similar to those used on the Su-30 family. Russian engineers tried to make the airplane more easy to mantain. The engines have an interval between overhaul increased to 4000 hours, an auxiliary power unit equips the Su-35 to provide cockpit and aircraft equipment power supply without the use of ground support teams. The aircraft uses a triple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control; compared to its predecessors, Su-35 has an improved, integrated aerodynamic and propulsion control enabling the flight control system to perform acceleration, deceleration, roll, pitch and yaw utilizing thrust vectoring in addition to classic aerodynamic control, alleviating the need for the super-sized air-brake and canards used in previous models. Availability of improved controls enabled the designers to reduce the aircraft radar signature (radar cross section RCS), particularly in head-on engagement pattern.
The Su-35 features a glass cockpit design, utilizing two large 15″ multi-function color LCD displays, a head-up display and full HOTAS functionality. The main sensor is an X-band E-Slavia radar allowing detection and tracking of up to 30 air targets while scanning a wide sector (track while scan). The radar and fire control can simultaneously engage up to eight targets. Production models will be fitted with the Tikhomirov NIIP Irbis radar, capable of detecting and tracking aerial targets with average radar cross-section of three square meters, operating at ranges of up-to 400 km (216nm). Irbis offers a wide area coverage of Irbis 70 to 120° with azimuth resolution of (in 2 -2.5 times), increased range, and better ECCM compared to its predecessors.