Russia aims to develop two-seater Su-57 fighter jets. The twin-seats Su-57 undoubtedly remains aimed at export clients, as smaller air forces often prefer fighters that can do double duty as trainers. According to Interfax News Agency, the Su-57E will likely cost around $100 million.
Russia’s top arms dealer claims two Southeast Asian countries have inquired about purchasing Su-57s. These likely include Myanmar and Vietnam, all operators of Russian jet fighters. Further afield, Algeria have expressed interest in the Su-57 jet.
A second shot at sales to India, however, might be the ultimate prize, as New Delhi might be tempted to purchase a fully developed Su-57 two-seater, provided it was made compatible with indigenous Indian weapons.
However, such prospects remain murky due to uncertainty as to how India will balance its relationships with Washington and Moscow, and the many years before any export-model Su-57s, let alone two-seaters, become available. By then, Ankara and New Delhi may well prefer to spend money on domestic fighter programs instead.
Furthermore, the Su-57E may have to compete with Sukhoi’s cheaper, export-oriented Checkmate single-engine light fighter built using many Su-57 systems—though full development of Checkmate too is far from guaranteed.
Given the concerted public statements and compelling rationales, a two-seat Su-57 seems distinctly possible. However, its development beyond the prototype stage should not be taken for granted due to how financial and industrial base constraints have led to huge delays and dramatically curtailed procurement for so many big-ticket Russian defense programs entering into the 2020s.
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