Ukrainian Air Force explains why it fears Russia’s Su-35
Russia’s Su-35 multi-role fighter jet poses the main threat to Kiev’s military amid the current conflict, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force Command has said.
“They have Su-35. It’s one of the best aircraft,” Yury Ignat said in an interview with RBK-Ukraine on Friday when asked if Moscow had warplanes that are comparable to the US-designed F-16 jets that Kiev expects to receive from its Western backers.
“The main aircraft that poses a threat to us is the Su-35. This must be acknowledged,” he stated.
The fighter jet made by Russia’s Sukhoi company is “technological and has serious weaponry,” including the R-37 rocket, which boasts “an even larger range than the AIM-120 AMRAAM” American air-to-air missile, the spokesman explained.
The Russian jet’s “main advantage is its radar… an aiming and navigation system that can... accompany and fire at several air targets at once,” Ignat said.
The Su-35 also possesses protective means and electronic warfare equipment, among other things, but can still be shot down, he added.
“One must understand that it’s a serious adversary, but the F-16 is also not an easy opponent, which also underwent the same modernization,” the spokesman stressed.
The Su-35, which was introduced into the Russian military in mid-2010s, is a 4++ generation supermaneuverable air superiority fighter that can hit targets in the air and on the ground.
The F-16 is a fourth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft that has been around since the 1970s and undergone a number of upgrades over the years.
Kiev has been pressing its foreign backers for the US-designed warplanes for months, arguing that they are crucial in providing air cover for Ukrainian troops and defending the country’s airspace.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said earlier this month that “there will be the transfer of F-16s [to Ukraine], likely from European countries that have excess F-16 supplies.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba later suggested that the first US-designed planes piloted by Ukrainians could take to the skies “by the end of the first quarter of next year.”
However, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley pointed out earlier this week that it would take “years” to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s, “do the maintenance and entertainment” operations required, and “generate that degree of financial support” for Kiev to be able to match Moscow in the air.
In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the F-16s “will burn” if they’re delivered to Ukraine, as has happened to tanks and other Western-supplied weapons.