Russian SU-35 at the 2013 Paris Air Show

PARIS AIR SHOW: It’s fair to say that the unabashed star of this show was the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter. It didn’t fly much but when it did, jaws dropped. With no American military fighters, helicopters or cargo planes flying here this year, the Su-35 pretty much had the show to itself, since the European offerings have been seen repeatedly in years past.

Fast and able to stand on its tail, power through at a high degree of attack and execute the famous Pugachev Cobra maneuver where a plane flies straight up and then seems to curl back in on itself, the plane wowed jaded airshow participants. But the aircraft’s dazzling maneuverability, key to winning dogfights and evading surface to air missiles, would seem to ignore a fundamental shift in air warfare away from the romance of dogfights to the cold, calculated destruction of the enemy from as far away as possible. At a recent event, a former senior Air Force official told me that F-35 pilots were told they had bungled if they ended up in a dogfight. The enemy, he said, should have been dead long before then if all was done correctly.

While the Sukhoi was undoubtedly the star of the show, some other aircraft deserved at least a nomination for “best supporting actor”:

Words fail me. It's very much like the French company parrots mini UAV but MUCH bigger. Paris Air Show, baby

Above is Agusta Westland’s Project Zero rotocraft UAV.

Above is BAE System’s Hawk trainer, used the by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. BAE hopes to sell 350 of these to the US Air Force, should the program be funded.

The above photo is of the nEUROn UCAV, built by a six-country consortium of European companies. The video below shows its first flight. It did not fly at this year’s Paris Air Show. In fact, no UAVs flew this year, hamstrung by the continuing reluctance of European (and American) civil aviation authorities to allow UAVs to fly outside of closed airspace.

The following video is a compilation of flights the first day of the air show, Monday.


  • Max Glazer

    *F-35 pilots were told they had bungled if they ended up in a dogfight. The enemy, he said, should have been dead long before then if all was done correctly*

    Interesting. And what happens if the long range missiles are unable to hit kill the intended target? Then what? Abort mission? If the only way to win is to dogfight then you dogfight.

    Also Su-35 is also MORE then capable to stand-off fighting. R-27ET/ER/EP have range that matches AMRAAM and radar can track an F-15 at AT LEAST 300km away. Not good enough for long range combat? Please.

    Dogfight is not dead at all. There is a reason why F-22 has TVC. Moron commanders have declared the dongfight dead once and we all know how F-4s fared back then.

    • Viper550ful .

      How many SU 35 are there and how many will be built?
      F35 will be built in the hundreds if not thousands.
      Good luck dodging those incoming missiles. There will be alot of them.

      And please, don’t compare 60’s missile technology with technology from today or even in 20/30 years from now. It’s so silly…

      • Max Glazer

        Considering that missile radar is EASILY defeated by modern DRFM-technology based ESA-equipped jammers as well as their data-link for mid-course updates the BVR isn’t exactly a reliable way to fight. An approx 56% OPERATIONAL probability of kill in near-ideal conditions for BVR is not much to brag about. Modern ECM would make those missiles virtually impotent. Silly?

        Hundreds if not thousands? F-35 is getting more and more expensive, customers are increasingly looking to pull out, technical problems are growing. It will not be made in projected numbers. It will die the same way F-22 did.

        • Viper550ful .

          And F35/F22 do NOT have jamming capabilities,radar and 360 degree situational awareness, if not better than anything out there?
          See first. Shoot first. As old as WW1.
          Tell me, what is the point of defeating a missile if you don’t even know where it is comming from until it is too late and from all sides, because F22/35 won’t be alone.
          How many missiles do you want to dodge and still have the stamina to go in a WVR dogfight, where someone not in the fight will pick you off at miles away?
          It’s suicide.

          Again how many SU 35 will be built?

          48…big deal, for what is basically a super Flanker, something we have known for decades.

          Costs are going down for the F35 as stated during the Paris airshow and many more official accounts. But of course you will argue they lie…you are apparantly the only one with access to the real numbers…

          So far NONE of the official partners has pulled out.

          • Max Glazer

            Known for decades? LMAO Supersonic cruise, way more powerful radar, TVC, spherical IR MAWS (which tells you EXACTLY where missile is coming from). Su-35 is a VASTLY superior combat machine to F-35. The only thing F-35 has is frontal stealth which Su-35 defeats with L-band AESA radars in its wings which are also data-link jammers. Old Su-35 didn’t have any of this. You don’t know anything about Su-35BM as you proved just now.

            F-35 has SEVERE problems.
            Its transsonic buffeting is so strong that pilots can’t see properly.
            Its helmet still can get the picture right.
            The arrestor hook on B model can’t grab the cable
            Code has planetload of bugs in it
            Central structural element cracks after 1000 hours
            RAMs burn off the tail due to engine heat.
            With the concurrent production and testing the cost of retrofitting all the systems and possibly strengthening the whole airframe will cost MASSIVELY. Still think its getting cheaper?

            Thats just what we KNOW about. Costs are going down? If you want to believe the pathological liars and PR people of the company that has history of bribes and corruption (F-104 saga is one example) then go right ahead.

            Su-35s radar has a field of view of 120 degrees off-boresight in ALL directions. F-35 has no more then 60 degrees. F-35s acceleration is pathetic. Just as its turn rate (both instantenious and sustained), rate of climb, max speed, combat time endurance. Don’t mention that video where its at high AOA. Flankers were doing it 25 years ago and so did Viggen.

            Whats the point of defeating the missile? Are you for real? So just sit there and let it kill you? You dodge, deceive and outrun ALL of them. And when Flankers will close in with “invisible”, they’ll see it and fire SALVOS of missiles. With IR seekers as well as active radar ones. Lets see F-35 try that with such crappy performance. And don’t tell me how it “beats all 4th generation fighters” just because LM Test Pilot says so. He is PAID so say so.

          • Socius

            Canada pulled out. I remember others were considering doing the same because of the high initial cost and also the upkeep/maintenance cost.

          • GDV
          • Jame

            F35 may see Su35 first in a long distance and fire first. But because the distance is too far and the missiles have no stealth capacity so the Su 35 will detect them and avoid them easily based on its super manoeuvring. When the F35 has run out of amunition, it will either fly away for hiding for become a clear target for S35 to kill.

          • Ausco

            The latest estimate of the cost of acquiring the full anticipated number of F35’s put out by DOD puts the cost at about $156 million each including development costs. It always had to cost something like that when you look at the cost of acquiring other 4+ aircraft at to-days prices. That cost per unit will increase if anticipated orders do not eventuate. That is the most likely scenario in to-days economic climate around the world. Operating costs will be considerably higher than 4+ type aircraft also. I forget the figure but I think it was close to double the cost of operating a 4+. Figures like that do make a very large rugged heavy fighter like the SU35 which can be easily upgraded over the next 30 years with better engines and radars etc. already developed or close to being fully developed and an impressive array of missiles available or close to being available look attractive if its rumored cost of about $70m is true. It will start to look very cheap if systems to detect stealth aircraft improve as much over the next 10 years as they have over the last 10/15 years. When you consider an S300 complex costs about $70m and the improved S400 does not cost much more it raises a lot of doubt how effective a partly stealthy F35 will be in the future in a defended environment. I can see the day many may wish they had a rugged bomb truck that could go in low and fast to avoid radar. It will all be answered in the next 10-15 years.

      • Guest

        And how many F 35’s will there be in any given fight? They only have two missiles with which to fight and two bombs to drop to keep their stealth. So if you say they can mount them on the wings then well the SU-35 seems to have a good chance. So are we going to send in dozens of F 35’s whenever we need to fight or bomb? I can only imagine the IR signature then. I can’t believe we are actually buying an aircraft designed for attack and calling it a fighter with only 2 missiles carried internally. Come on, give me a break. The attack role and CAS mission is great too with only one model having a gun carried at all times and only two bombs internally to support in hostile environments.

      • Jame

        Don’t compare the anti-missile technics today with those in the 80’s. It’s so silly too.

  • Jimmy 6

    …I’m not impressed. Su 35 ….More Russian junk. We will be shooting them down from Space. Liken to shooting fish in a fish bowl…

    • Guest

      You guys are not yet able to handle, afghan stone and libyan shoes.

    • Jame

      Do not underestimate Su35 or you will become a fish in a bowl!

  • Mehmet Emre

    If they ask me -which they won’t- I prefer to buy two side’s weapons and planes. (both Russia and US.) (ps. i am a Turkish citizen). Su-35 could be better than F-35 after F-16 for TuAF. Meantime you can have a look at some cool Su-35 photos:
    Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker Pictures