This is a top military aircraft everyone dreams of, except that it’s not stealthy. It costs about the same compared to T-50, only slightly cheaper. None the less, compared to American military aircraft, Su-35 is a solid deal. Lack of stealth is a big problem though. I am not sure of why Russia was still investing in Su-35 back in 2008. Americans and their allies keep on saying that the days of dogfighting are over, but that’s not the problem. In fact, a whole new level of dogfighting is about to create a whole new era of the fight over air dominance. When stealth aircraft have increased their costs significantly, the inevitability of their dogfights will only dramatize the impact of every loss, well, mainly on the American front.
The real problem is that Russians can at times make deadly mistakes. They probably know it. That’s why Su-37 will be silent forever. The old Russian trick of flying low is suicide against F-22 or F-35, which cannot be detected easily from below. They probably did not realize that yet back in 2008. When and how they realized it remain intriguing today. No worries. With T-50’s supermaneuverability and long-range strike capabilities, both F-22 and F-35 will have to go up by one more class to compete. If you can’t do the dogfight, you will need that first strike, desperately, as a weak swordman with a pike must know. It’s as simple as that.
S-400 has a beyond-horizon capability even against stealth aircraft. It seems that Russians have mastered the art of low-frequency EM waves, which tend to yield a low precision over a long distance. Its fire-and-forget capability seems to suggest that its missiles have high-precision radars of their own, which may not work very well against stealth airframes. Its independent homing system, built into its missiles, provides its capability to counter jamming, just so they don’t need communication in order to hit. It’s almost impeccable, except that we don’t know how close a missile has to be to trigger its high-precision guidance, a vulnerability exploitable.
No worries. S-400 can be made stealthy easily, on demand. You won’t see its missiles coming in a real war where no one plays by the book. You might still receive a warning, but your radar will show nothing. How lovely!