Forget the Clunky Airframe of Su-57, Su-57’s Cockpit Will Never Make It A Fifth-Gen Fighter

There are still many 1970s ping-pong switches left in the cockpit of Su-57.

There is no comparison between Nokia 1100 phone with Samsung Note 20 Ultra smart phone. In this analogy Su-57 is a Nokia 1100 and F-35 is a Samsung Note 20 Ultra.

Russian state-run corporation Rostec has announced that the Su-57 multirole fighter jet’s cockpit received maximum automation. The development was disclosed by Rostec-controlled United Aircraft Corporation in its New Horizons corporate magazine.

Sukhoi Design Bureau (within the UAC) Cockpit Department head Nikita Dorofeyev told the New Horizons magazine: “Automation, information integration and intellectual support are the defining requirements for the ergonomics of a modern fighter’s cockpit.

The Su-57 PAK-FA aircraft’s avionics, cockpit ergonomics and radar has been designed based on the Su-35BM system. Tikhomirov NIIP the instrument design bureau build most of its radar and avionics for the plane.

Why Ergonomics? Human factors and ergonomics is the application of psychological and physiological principles to the engineering and design of products, processes, and systems. A great ergonomics design allows pilots to fly an aircraft comfortably with less stress and have a better man-machine interface to focus on the mission rather than flying an aircraft. Russian focus on flying an aircraft and the western designer focus on the mission and comfort of pilots, hence the flying of aircraft is left to the automation and high-performing computers with millions of lines of codes to tell the aircraft what to do in what situation. For example, an F-35 pilot position his aircraft then just simply pressing a button, F-35B terns into STOVL mode without requiring further input from the pilot. The computer of the F-35 will do magic on behalf of the pilot.

The Su-57 cockpit begs millions of questions, but first one why didn’t Russian engineers pay attention to detail? Second why did Russian engineers make identical cockpit of Su-35? Isnt it what separate fifth-generation fighters from fourth-generation fighters?

The release of the SU-57 cockpit layout is the first exposure of the SU-57 that is a glorified Su-35. As early as 2010, when Russia first released pictures of its SU-57 fighter plane. 

Russian media exposed the cockpit picture of SU-57 as early as 2010.

Look at the photos of the cockpit, Su-57 uses cockpit display control systems that are almost identical to Su-35S.

The display system in the cockpit consists of two large color multi-function LCD displays, a wide-angle diffraction head-up display and at least 3 small liquid crystal displays. Two 15 inch large multi-function displays of Su-30 legacy fighter. 

The main display fire control radar, electronic countermeasures and other information. 3 small liquid crystal display, a display is installed in the bottom of the head-up display, mainly display important targeting and navigation data, and HUD set parameters; second small display analog display indicator; third at the lower right. It is not clear from the screen that it has a small display on the left knee similar to the Su -35S. Maybe just put this small monitor of Su-35S to the right.

At present, Russia has not yet released SU-57display specific information but can be announced by Russia’s su -35S display control system information to determine the general performance of SU-57 monitors.

15 inch MFI-35 multi-function display two multi-function displays and Su-35S are very similar, which can display 5 dimension picture, can automatically adjust the brightness and contrast and includes 40 peripheral function keys and 2 used to manually adjust the brightness and input parameters with the knob, the overall weight of 12 kg

The display can display charts, TV images, or double display, as well as split pictures. It should be noted that the monitor is a universal display and is also used for the -52 helicopter gunships. From this point of view, the SU-57uses the monitor and is likely to be a transitional product. SU-57may be using this product because of lack of money.For such Russian military only tens of billions of dollars in military projects.

The control panel of a suspected MFPI-35 multi-purpose control panel display right, is one of the main interface system pilot and machine, the display V control panel will past the dashboard complex operation function integration. On the Su -35 fighter cockpit, this panel V display system is located below the left. SU-57is on the right side, it may be for the right hand manipulation is more agile and skilled, then you can make the left hand to operate the throttle, or the left side of the display control panel is installed on the other.

Comparing With Eurofighter Typhoon Cockpit

The 6 condition is divided into 3 categories: 1 to 8 inches (20 cm to 20 cm) and multi function display, 3 to 6 inches (15.2 cm to 15.2 cm) auxiliary multi-function display, 2 to 34 inches (7.6 cm to 10.2 cm) above the display, each color display for the 5 gray level, all the active liquid crystal display, the total resolution of 1 million 350 thousand pixels, show a total area of 201 square inches. The final 8 inch display instead of the original 10 inch monitor was mainly restricted by the technology of the military cockpit display.

Pictured above is the cockpit of the Typhoon fighter
Pictured above is the cockpit of the Typhoon fighter

Comparing With Dassault Rafale

The demonstration and control system of the gust fighter is simple and fluent, and the man-machine engineering is fully considered.

Rafale F3R cockpit
Rafale F3R cockpit
Rafale F3R cockpit
Rafale F3R cockpit

Europe’s four-generation fighter, such as “typhoon” and “Rafale” of the display control system, roughly the same as F-22.

From the above point of view, the whole set of SU-57 display and control system in the display area, integration and other basic indicators, even lower than three decades old F-22 and Europe’s fourth-generation fighters, such as “typhoon” and “Rafale” have avionics and computers than Su-57.

One important reason may lie in the fineness of workmanship and materials, and the color of the instrument panel. Russian fighter planes traditionally use light blue panels that do not look so tall, but some analysts believe that the color helps lower the pressure of the pilot.

There are many gaps with the Su-57 cockpit.

Of course, the F-35 is the forefront of technology, as America is using space-edge technology, but technology-wise Su-57 is indeed been behind the most advanced cockpit F-35 or even Rafale F3R.

Comparing with Gripen E Cockpit

Gripen E/F cockpit is comparable to F-35.
Gripen E/F cockpit is comparable to F-35.

The touchscreen functionality of the WAD comes with its own set of perks. Most of the time, the pilot likes to change the map scaling depending on his interest in a particular region, which can now be achieved by a touch on the screen. The situational awareness can be further enhanced by overlaying one or several maps of selected areas and zoom level, which helps the pilot to monitor more than one map simultaneously. However, Nordlander adds that at times, the touch functions may or may not be used, and instead, the pilot will want to use Hand-On Throttle And Stick (HOTAS), push a button, or turn a knob. To take care of this requirement, Gripen E’s WAD doesn’t offer functionalities only via touch.

The Human Machine Interface (HMI) in Gripen is a product of evolution over the years. It is designed to select and present only the critical information to the pilot. Information such as the engine RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) or fuel-tank indicator are not shown unless they are required. “If the system is working perfectly well, it won’t tell the pilot anything. We have automated a lot of the functionality in the system. This is a huge step forward in terms of performance, and how we use the system,” says Nordlander.

Comparing with Lockheed Martin F-35 Cockpit

The cockpit of F-35 is the best ergonomics design in any fighter jet of world.

F-35’s cockpit represents the world’s most advanced levels, and its cockpit design has been evaluated by over 1300 pilots and experts in ergonomics.

In the cockpit of F-35, a variety of dashboard and indicator completely disappeared, replaced by a large color digital touch type lcd.

This is a 8 inch, 20 inch (20 cm, 50 cm) single screen full-color multi-function display, resolution of up to 1200X3200, easier to fuse radar, electronic warfare, photoelectric detectors and other systems information. 

The pilot only needs to touch the corresponding area on the multi-function display with his finger, so he can adjust the display and display sequence of various information at will, and restart the display system. Moreover, the left and right display area work does not affect each other and backup each other. F-35 also uses a helmet mounted display system with a speech recognition and control system that eliminates the previous controller for communications, navigation, and identification. Its cockpit design has been evaluated by ergonomics of over 1300 pilots and experts.

The cockpit of F-35 is the best ergonomics design in any fighter jet of world.
Cockpit of F-35.

Compare with this set of display and control system, SU-57 gap is probably the difference between traditional mobile phones such Nokia 1100 and smart touch phones such as Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The reason why modern fighters pursue larger display area, not to make it look “tall”, “extravagant”, but for the sake of ergonomics consideration. The cockpit is a human-computer interaction system complex, information intensive, information processing pilots face increasingly stringent requirements, often requires a large amount of information in a short period of time and rapid response decision-making, and prone to high mental workload, even the overload situation.

In order to improve the ability to withstand overload, the seat is often backward mounted, and then tilt to make the visual range larger, in the same resolution, the required display characters must be increased accordingly. The wide field of view enables pilots to perform flight operations, low altitude penetration and accurate ground attack at night or under severe weather conditions. Studies show that the speed of understanding on a large display is much faster than on a small display. Tests in Europe and the United States show that pilots use “big images” to increase their situational awareness by 100% compared to 2 or 3 conventional small multi-function displays. 

Situational awareness plays a decisive role in air combat outcome. To some extent, the essence of air combat is to use superior situational awareness to reach the vantage point, destroy the enemy aircraft and evacuate safely”. Air combat is regarded as a competitive or combat advantage to gain situational awareness. The total area of SU-57 displays is probably not much less than that of F-35, but its distribution is dispersed and human friendliness is poor.

There are still many 1970s ping-pong switches left in the cockpit of Su-57.

The second point difference in the cockpit display control system of SU-57lies in the poor integration, and uses a lot of table tennis switches, knobs and so on.

The fifth-generation aircraft comes with high overload duration and the rate of change has increased, the seat usually tilt back design, to improve the ability of overload, the pilot may move backward, the knee was partially blocked by sight, making the best visual dashboard area move, visible area. In addition, the fighters reduce the cockpit space for stealth, thus reducing the area of the display panel. Therefore, it is necessary to make the best use of the display and control system to reduce the use of switches and traditional instruments. 

In contrast with F-35, there are many switches around Su-57’s cockpit, and more scattered.
What is this motor bike mirror doing in the cockpit of Su-57?
The details of the cockpit display system of F-35 are exquisite.

Su-57 Switches and Buttons are the same as the MiG-29 or Yak-130

F-35 has much less switches and buttons, but the buttons are modern well organized in the cockpit. These buttons are to adjust day and night mode of the display and a master alarm.
Full touch screen display of F-35
Full touch screen display of F-35
Payloads engagement using touch screen of F-35

In addition, from the point of view of the display system control technology, the latest display control system in the United States completely uses the touch control system, in general, to be ahead of the peripheral keys and knobs used by Su-57. The use of the middle of the driving rod helpless.

Another area of criticism in the cockpit of SU-57 has been that it still uses the center of the joystick and does not use the side bar technique. From the fourth generation fighter, the use of a large number of west side rod manipulation techniques, and to the four generation and the four generation semi machine is almost uniform side of the control rod, including the aviation industry on display at the Zhuhai air show the concept of advanced fighter cockpit, the driving rod side.

Su-35 Cockpit. Almost identical of Su-57.

Similar to the Su-57, Su-35 also uses a mid-drive pole, which is beneficial to Russian pilots reloading training. Putting the joystick on the right, plus the arm rest, is more conducive to holding and handling the right hand for a long time.

In addition, the side driving rod is more favorable for adopting a seat with a larger tilt angle, and the seat is more favorable for improving the overload resistance of the pilot. 

Before against a reason for this is that if the right hand was injured, unable to fly back, while using a stick, the left hand can be substituted for the operation. However, the superiority of the lateral pole in this extreme situation is obviously too narrow. Therefore, the new generation of fighters in the world are using side drive technology.

Data show that Russia has also experimented with side bar manipulation, technically speaking, it is not difficult to achieve side lever control. Russia’s eventual absence of side – lever manipulation is likely to be a conceptual difference, and analysts say it may be a pilot’s choice”. 

But it’s important to point out that sometimes the habits of pilots tend to repel newer technologies. For example, head up display technology, pilots who have not used this kind of display, just started the operation will be some discomfort, tend to be some rejection. Therefore, in the design of aircraft, we should obey the pilots’ opinions, but they will not adopt all of them.

Russia did not use side bar technology for the T-50, a possible reason for the formation of combat effectiveness as soon as possible. Russia has never had a side – pole aircraft service before, and from the trainer to Su-35, it is a mid – drive. It’s probably not possible to develop a two seater SU-57 for facelift training. Thus, if the side bar technology is used, it will cause great trouble to the SU-57reloading. The use of traditional mid joystick allows the Su -35 pilots to quickly switch to SU-57 pilots, or use the two seat Su -30MK to teach.

Of course, the lever of SU-57 were also investigated by man-machine engineering optimization, it adopts non-contact button design small stroke, without the need for circuit board like keyboard that need contact button below, the operation is more ergonomic, and the joystick to tilt slightly to the right, the right hand.

China is developing a copycat cockpits based on the ergonomics of F-35 cockpit. Advanced fighter cockpit in China Aviation industry.

Although the use of large-scale block display, compared with the F-35, the space utilization is not enough, the production is not refined enough, many aspects need to be optimized. Of course, this might just be a functional prototype.

The Su-57 is not a 4.5 generation aircraft in all aspects let alone aspiring fifth-generation fighter.

© 2021 – 2022, GDC. © GDC and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.