Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Lockheed F-35 Lightning versus Sukhoi SU-35: who will win in a Modern Air Battle

The F-35 lightning and Sukhoi SU-35 is the two modern fighters and that is why we would like to compare these two fighter jets

The F35 comes with three types of models know as F35A, F35B, and F35C, all with different functions. Pentagon plans to acquire over 3,100 F35, which if delivered will make the F35 one of the most numerous fighter jets ever built.

On the other hand, SU35 is the upgraded version of SU27, though an exceptional jet with much improvement. Russia plans to build more than 3500 SU35. It is so modernized that it attracts the attention of many countries and only China could make its purchase.



Let’s have a look at some specifications first. As of today, around 500 F35s have been built so far. F35B and F35C are comparatively more expensive as the per-unit cost of F35B and F35C is $116M and $109M respectively, while the F35A price tag is around $79M. Operated by a crew of 1, the Aircraft’s empty weight is 29,300lb and the maximum takeoff weight is around 70,000lb. The jet is powered by a single-engine producing 43,000 pounds of thrust. With the help of this engine, the aircraft can gain the top speed of Mach 1.6 or about 1,228mph. With a maximum range of 1,700mi, the jet can combat within a radius of 770mi. F35’s climb rate is around 45,000 ft/min and it can reach a maximum altitude of 50,000ft. The aircraft is fitted with 4 internal hardpoints and 6 external weapon stations with a total payload capacity of 18,000Ib. F35 is also armed with a 25mm 4-barrel rotary cannon.

In contrast, around 115 SU35 have been built so far with a per-unit cost of $85M. Operated by a crew of 1, the aircraft comes in a weight of 41,888lb with a maximum takeoff weight of 76,059Ib. The Jet is powered by 2 after-burning turbofan engines generating 64,000 pounds of thrust combined. With the help of these engines, the jet can reach a top speed of 1,500mph. With a ferry range of 2,800mi, the jet can combat within a radius of 990mi. SU35’s climb rate is around 55,000 ft/min and it can reach a maximum altitude of 59,000ft. The aircraft comes with 12 hardpoints with an ordnance carrying capacity of 17,630Ib. The fighter jet is also armed with a 30mm autocannon.

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 The F35 has lead in this category as SU35 is not a stealth aircraft at all, however for perspective, the SU35’s radar cross-section is between 1 to 3 sqm, or about the size of a large table while the RCS of F35 is about the size of an insect. However, the Su-35 does have the hypothetical capability to detect F-35 at close ranges using its search and tracking sensors. In contrast, the F-35 knows where SU-35 is at a longer range and can position for complete control of the engagement.


 SU35 is based on the SU27 platform, so its status as a “super maneuverable” fighter is a matter of fact. Although both jets can slip into heavily defended targets on the ground. F35 will be better in those scenarios while the SU35 is better for air-to-air battles. The SU-35 can out-maneuver the F-35 in every possible scenario of the dogfight.

Radar & Avionics

 The F35 is outfitted with the latest AN/APG-81 radar capable of tracking 23 targets in 9 seconds and engaging 19 of them in 2.4 seconds. The range of F35 radar is confidential, however, some defense analysts believe that this radar can detect a target beyond 300 miles.

On the other hand, SU35 employs the powerful Irbis-E radar, capable of detecting an aerial target up to 250mi away. With the help of this radar, SU35 can track 30 airborne targets and engage 8 targets simultaneously.


The F-35 and SU-35 prove to be two planes of significantly different talents.

The SU-35 can carry more missiles, fly further than F-35, and be slightly cheaper than the F-35. The SU-35 is based on a classical Sukhoi fighter which proves effective in a dog fight. The F-35 wants no part in a traditional dogfight because it can detect SU-35 at a much larger distance before it comes to dogfight.

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