$2.5 Billion Order Launches Su-35 Production
The Russian government has finally committed to production of the Sukhoi Su-35 combat aircraft, which features thrust-vectoring and e-scan radar. At the MAKS 2009 airshow at Zhukovsky airbase near Moscow this month, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a contract worth $2.5 billion for 48 Su-35S models. They will be delivered to the Russian Air Force by 2015. The contract also includes four new Su-30M2 two-seat aircraft and the upgrade of 12 more Su-27s that are already in Russian service, to the Su-27SM standard. Sukhoi will also get a $100 million loan to finance the Su-35 production investment. An Su-35BM was displayed at MAKS, but the show was marred by the collision and crash during practice of two Su-27s from the Russian Knights formation display team. Two pilots ejected with injuries, but the team leader was killed, and five people on the ground were seriously injured. Contrary to some expectations, Russia’s fifth-generation PAK-FA fighter prototype was not on show at Zhukovsky, even though it is due to make a first flight from there this fall.