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Production Tempo at Su-35S and Su-57 Assembly Lines in russia Look Nothing Like You'd Expect From a Country at War

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Production of Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft at the premises of KnAAZ, spring 2024 / Screenshot from a russian video clip
Production of Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft at the premises of KnAAZ, spring 2024 / Screenshot from a russian video clip

​A glimpse at the current situation in the industry of making russia's top-tier aviation

Quite an unusual situation occurred where screenshots of a video made by russian propaganda in April 2024 have surfaced just recently in social media. The video clip shows assembly lines of Su-35S and Su-57 production taking place at the KnAAZ aircraft factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, russia.

Regardless of the video being two months old, there are some details that make it still relevant and important to take a look at, especially considering these might be the first pictures showing the combat aviation industry in russia appearing online since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Some frames indicate that some of Moscow's theses about having switched over to a wartime economy are clear overstatements.

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To begin with, we can see seven fuselages of Su-35S at various stages of completion situated on the assembly conveyor at KnAAZ factory. For a reminder, throughout the whole year 2022, the russian federation produced seven aircraft, followed by ten aircraft in 2023.

Production of Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft at the premises of KnAAZ, spring 2024 / Defense Express / Production Tempo at Su-35S and Su-57 Assembly Lines in Russia Look Nothing Like You'd Expect From a Country at War
Production of Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft at the premises of KnAAZ, spring 2024 / Screenshot from a russian video clip

The seven airframes we see now are not part of the wartime "mobilization effort" but a part of earlier agreements. Recently, when the russian Aerospace Forces received a new batch of Su-35 fighters, russian think tank Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) mentioned in its unofficial blog called bmpd that the provision was part of an older contract for 24 jets signed back in 2021.

In other words, what russian media try to position as an "industrial mobilization" is in fact quite an unhasty commitment to an order placed before the outbreak of the larger war in Ukraine.

Production of Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft at the premises of KnAAZ, spring 2024 / Defense Express / Production Tempo at Su-35S and Su-57 Assembly Lines in Russia Look Nothing Like You'd Expect From a Country at War
Production of Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft at the premises of KnAAZ, spring 2024 / Screenshot from a russian video clip

As for the Su-57 production, the pictures above show disconnected parts that are yet to become airframes for the aircraft. The real rates of manufacture lie in statistical data: the line for mass production was put into operation in 2020. Still, by early 2024 there were about 10 or less Su-57s delivered to the russian air force.

Production of Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft at the premises of KnAAZ, spring 2024 / Defense Express / Production Tempo at Su-35S and Su-57 Assembly Lines in Russia Look Nothing Like You'd Expect From a Country at War
Production of Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft at the premises of KnAAZ, spring 2024 / Screenshot from a russian video clip
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