The lack of the Izdelie 30 is one of the two reasons why the Su-57 Felon is still categorized as a generation 4++ combat aircraft. The second reason may be the lack of azimuth sensors. Russia advertises its product as an absolute azimuth fighter, i.e. 360 degree sensitive capacity. Based on open sources, similar technology, ie. azimuth sensors, has not yet been developed in Russia. The last announcement was in mid-2021 when it was claimed [By western sources] that Russian specialists from various research and development institutes were close to developing such sensors.
The flight test that the Su-57 performed a few days ago was a test of new technologies, integrating the aircraft’s avionics. It is an intelligent system that allows the pilot to focus on another operational role while the aircraft is in flight. In parallel with this test, the UAS says that new weapons were also tested, but did not specify what.
According to Yury Slyusar, General Director of UAC, in the future, the set of intelligent sensors controls the aircraft. This is exactly what was tested during the flight on October 21st. The aircraft was given the function of co-piloting and preparing to use the weapons, while the pilot was concentrated on other critical functions.
BulgarianMilitary.com reported in February last year about a similar possible modification. Then Nikita Dorofeev, who is part of the cockpit designers of the Sukhoi Su-57 Felon mentioned in an interview that such a possibility exists. A few months later, Dorofeev gave a second interview to Russian media, claiming that the next integration into the smart Su-57 would be pilot control of the aircraft with eyes and voice.
Sources in Russia, including Dorofeev, say that the UAC has already produced this prototype. It is possible that the second function – voice command of the aircraft was tested on October 21st. Rafael Suleymanov, a test pilot at UAC says that at the moment “the plane is learning learned phrases.” However, Suleymanov did not mention whether at the time of the test flight the plane was being trained, or whether the other plane – the prototype – was being tested on the ground.
However, it is not clear from the statements whether the new sensor capabilities of the Su-57 being tested are actually the unmanned version of the aircraft. In 2020, BulgarianMilitary.com reported that Russia was working on an unmanned version of the fighter. Then, the information that reached us was that these functions are being tested in the UAC laboratories. Russia announced that the Su-57 will have an unmanned version in the same year – 2020.
Suleymanov defines the Su-57 Felon as “a powerful weapon in the hands of the pilot”. According to the pilot, the Su-57 is dangerous under all weather conditions and at all latitudes.
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that just recently Russia officially confirmed that the Su-57 has already taken part in the war in Ukraine. The fighter did not engage in a direct air battle with a Ukrainian aircraft, because its capabilities were primarily used in hitting targets beyond visual range. The first combat debut of the Su-57 was in Syria while prototypes were still being developed. This information was also officially confirmed by Russia in a statement by General Serhiy Surovikin, commander of the unified group of troops in Ukraine.