Sukhoi SU-57 (T-50). Photo: Wikipedia/Alex Beltyukov

Russia is in no hurry to begin mass production of the country’s answer to America’s F-35 fighter, a defense official announced earlier this month, despite the fact that it is “one of the best aircraft” in the world.

“The plane has proven to be very good, including in Syria, where it confirmed its performance and combat capabilities,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said on Russian television, as reported by The Diplomat.

“You know that today the Su-57 is considered to be one of the best aircraft produced in the world. Consequently, it does not make sense to speed up work on mass-producing the fifth-generation aircraft,” Borisov explained.

The Su-57, he went on, is “our trump, which we can always play when the aircraft of previous generations will start to lag behind in capabilities when compared to similar aircraft from the world’s leading countries.”

Borisov’s upbeat assertion aside, the article from The Diplomat cited Russia’s overstretched defense budget as one reason for the decision. As of July, the Russian military had yet to sign a contract to purchase the initial pre-production batch of 12 aircraft.

Russia has played up the SU-57’s capabilities, as well as its lower price tag compared to the US F-35.

The Russian-made jet is two and a half times cheaper than the F-35, or F-22, according to Russian lawmaker Vladimir Gutenev.

“The fifth-generation fighter jets are undoubtedly competing with US F-22s and F-35s, but it is considerably cheaper even though it has similar characteristics, while in some aspects, for example, maneuverability, it does better than the US jets,” Gutenev told Sputnik.

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