The first three Su-35 fighter jets for Egypt’s air force have been seen flying in Russia, months after it emerged production had started at the Gagarin Aircraft Plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
On 22 July, photos emerged of five aircraft in flight, with serials 9210, 9212 and 9214 visible. They were spotted at Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport in central Russia apparently en route from the factory 3 600 km away. In early May, satellite imagery appeared to show four of the aircraft on the ground at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur factory in eastern Russia. Their colour scheme matches that of Egyptian MiG-29Ms in service.
It is expected the aircraft will be delivered this year.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Egypt ordered 24 Su-35 aircraft for $2 billion in 2018.
In March 2019 Russian newspaper Kommersant said the contract involves several dozen of the fighters, which will supplement the MiG-29M/M2 fighters Egypt is receiving and help replace obsolete MiG-21s and J-7s.
Kommersant said deliveries are due to take place from 2020/2021. Egypt’s order was apparently spurred on by the performance of the aircraft over Syria, where it was deployed by the Russian Air Force.
Both China and Indonesia have ordered Su-35s, with China receiving its last batch in late 2018. Indonesia has ordered 11 of the type and China 24.
The Su-35 is one of the latest evolutions of the Su-27 ‘Flanker’ and first flew in February 2008, after which it was put in production for the Russian Air Force – service entry was in 2014. Compared to its predecessors, the Su-35 features new avionics including the Irbis phased array radar with a range of 400 km and more powerful AL-41F1S engines (14 500 kg of thrust) with thrust vectoring control.
The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 34 500 kg and a maximum range of 3 600 km on internal fuel. Payload is 8 tonnes on 12 hardpoints in addition to a single GSh-30-1 30 mm cannon. The Su-35 can deploy air-to-air missiles of up to 300 kilometre range, and can carry the heavy Oniks anti-ship cruise missile, as well as a multitude of air-to-ground weaponry.
Over the last decade, Egypt has taken delivery of large amounts of hardware from Russia. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, this includes Tor-M1 (SA-15), Igla-S (SA-24), S-300VM (Antey-2500/SA-23) and Buk-M2 (SA-17) surface-to-air missile systems, ten Mi-17V-5 helicopters and a Project 1241/Tarantual fast attack craft as well as air-to-air and anti-tank guided missiles. Egypt is also receiving 46 Ka-52K attack helicopters and 50 MiG-29M/M2 fighter jets from Russian manufacturers.