During the Army 2018 military-technical forum held August 21-26 at Kubinka, west of Moscow, the Russian defense ministry signed a total of 32 contracts with 20 Russian manufacturers. The value of the orders exceeded 130 billion roubles (nearly $2 billion) and calls for the delivery of 600 pieces of equipment and the modernization of 1,500 more.
The signing took place on August 22, followed by a press briefing by deputy defense minister Alexei Krivoruchko, who commented, “Fulfilment of these contracts will see the Russian armed forces taking the most modern weapons, with a focus on precision strike systems and munitions for them.”
He did not release any figures except one. With previous agreements taken into account, the Russian defense ministry shall receive 15 Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation fighters. “We find this airplane as state-of-the-art," Krivoruchko said. "We shall receive 15 such aircraft new from the factory, with the first one due next year. This aircraft is a design success as it surpasses all of its foreign analogues, has undergone all sorts of trials, and gained some combat experience.” The initial production batch will be followed by shipments of more aircraft in improved versions that are now in development. In particular, the customer expects an upgraded variant, now undergoing flights trials, to become available in quantities from 2023.
Also speaking at the briefing, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) president Yuri Slyusar said that judging by their price-performance ratios, the Su-57 and MiG-35 represent the best solution in their classes, respectively. He described the contracts signed on August 22 as those for quantity production of both types. The Su-57 will provide the base for an aircraft family, as the Su-27 did, he added. “The Su-57 is a basic platform that will develop, undergo modernization, and re-engining. In the process, we will install more and more advanced systems, so as to expand the combat capabilities and functionality of the baseline aircraft. This shall shape the future of our aviation for many years ahead.”
Touching on the Su-57, the manufacturer stressed the employment of artificial intelligence, wide use of composite materials, and the ability to strike heavily defended targets, including control centers handling aviation operations. “Technology-wise, launching the Su-57 into production shall help us make a leap forward, as we will be mastering new technologies pertaining to the next-generation aircraft,” said Slyusar.
The UAC president further said that by adding contracts for Su-57 and MiG-35 quantity production to those already awarded for the 4++ generation fighters such as the Su-30SM, Su-34, and Su-35, the Russian defense ministry has increased the workload for national industry. Moreover, the initial domestic orders for the two latest aircraft types could influence foreign clients. “Both aircraft types have some export potential,” said Slyusar.
Although there is no official announcement on figures for the long-awaited MiG-35 order, industry sources claimed the initial contract is only for six aircraft. The MiG-35 will be produced at RAC MiG factory in Lukhovitsy, Moscow Region. It has been reported that this first batch may be delivered to the "Strizhi" (Swifts) aerobatic team, which is based at Kubinka and currently flies MiG-29s.
Selected foreign guests were shown production specimens of both the Su-57 and MiG-35 in the hangars at Kubinka. A pair of Su-57 development prototypes flew from another airfield for a 10-minute flight performance over the base on the opening day of the event. Neither type was on show during the two trade and three public days that followed. Army 2018 included a daily flight program involving up to 20 aircraft, including the six Chengdu J-10 fighters of the PLAAF’s "August 1st" aerobatic team, with 30 more aircraft on static display.