In general, the United States has tended to make expensive aircraft with long service lives. The Soviet Union and later Russia has tended to make affordable aircraft with short service lives and higher maintenance requirements. Some Russian fighters, such as the earlier Su-30 Flanker, have also suffered from significant reliability issues.
The Su-35 appears to narrow the gap in this regard somewhat—it is supposed to last six thousand flight hours. The F-15C and E are rated to last eight thousand and sixteen thousand hours, and the former is likely to undergo a life-extension program. On the other hand, the Su-35s rolling off of factory production lines will be at the beginning of their service lives, while most F-15 airframes date back to the 1970s and 1980s.
I have been asked to compare the venerable American F-15 Eagle fighter to Russia’s new competitor for the crown of best Fourth Generation fighter, the Su-35S “Flanker E.”
The former is the airplane that in many ways defined what a Fourth Generation fighter can do. Introduced in the 1970s, it has been extensively updated to keep with the times—and hundreds will remain in service for decades to come.
The latter is an upgraded Su-27 Flanker—the Soviet-era counterpart to the F-15—now sporting modernized avionics and munitions, fancy vector-thrust engines and a fresh coat of radar-absorbent paint.
Sensors and Stealth
The Su-35S has a powerful Irbis-E passive electronically scanned array radar with a range of up to 400 kilometers; it is also effective against ground targets. However, the F-15’s APG-63 V3 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar is superior—harder to jam, higher resolution and harder to track.
The Su-35 boasts an infrared search and track system (IRST), which allows it to determine the general position of aircraft within a fifty kilometer radius—potentially quite useful for detecting stealth aircraft at shorter ranges. The F-15 doesn’t have an IRST.
Beyond Visual Range Combat:
The latest air to air missiles can be launched at targets well over 100 kilometers away. While the United States Air Force is convinced that beyond visual range (BVR) combat will dominate air warfare in the twenty-first century, with missiles fired over vast distances, the Russian aviation establishment is more skeptical. It holds that electronic counter measures and evasive maneuvers will lower the hit probability against maneuverable fighter aircraft considerably below the projected fifty to seventy percent hit rate. Russian aircraft are still designed to engage in BVR warfare, but with the belief that short-range combat is likely to ensue after BVR volleys are exchanged.
The Su-35S can carry over 17,000 pounds of munitions on its hardpoints, with up to 14 usable for air-to-ground attacks.
The F-15C can carry…none. Because it is purely an air superiority fighter. (To be fair, refitting for ground combat would not be an insurmountable task—Israel already refitted its Eagles in the 70s in this manner and used them destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osiriak.)
The F-15E Strike Eagle can carry 23,000 pounds of ordnance. The Strike Eagle can fly just as fast as the F-15C and carry the same air-to-air weapons, but it is somewhat less maneuverable and agile in Within Visual Range combat due to its heavier weight.
The Next Generation F-15?:
Boeing has marketed an advanced, stealthy version of the F-15, the Silent Eagle, for years—and it may finally have a found a customer in Israel. Recently, Boeing also began promoting an upgrade package for the F-15C, the Eagle 2040C, designed to keep the air-superiority version viable up to 2040.
Would Silent Eagles and Eagle 2040s redress the downsides of contemporary F-15s?
Ultimately, future air-combat capabilities may be increasingly
Source :- nationalinterest.org
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