The Russian SU-35 was something of a mystery for many years. Pictures from Russian firms showed different fighter jets carrying that label, even as the aircraft remained a prospective design and research project, rather an active program of record.
Revelations after 2007 began to provide answers. This article explains the sources of the widespread confusion regarding the SU-35’s layout and key characteristics, reviews what is now known about the platform, and tracks its development. Those developments are likely to have broad consequences. The aircraft now has a home customer in the Russian Air Force, and the SU-35 is being positioned to replace most SU-30MK variants as Russia’s fighter export of choice within the coming decade. Will its succession bid succeed?