Russia will field the SU-35. This aircraft and/or its technology will see its way into new export orders. The Chinese will put growth technology improvements into their SU derivatives. There is this idea that the F-35 is not good enough to face emerging threats. And what about the thing I wrote the other day? I don't know. I wasn't there. It does seem possible though.
Let us look at this idea closer. Below is simple chart that I made up. Since I made it up, some may consider it of no value. Maybe akin to the lack of value put forward by marketing people that make up any story to sell a combat aircraft.
The assumptions I use are the following.
1.Comparisons vary. Note that the SU-35 can carry a wide variety of missiles. For this I gave the SU-35 only 4 R-77 radar-homing air-to-air missiles; it can carry more. I also gave it 4 R-73Ms for a total of 8 missiles. The R-73M is a high-off-bore-sight (HOBS) infra-red imaging missile. The closest U.S. analogue to the R-77 is the AIM-120 used by the U.S. F-22, existing legacy aircraft and maybe someday, the F-35.
The comparison assumes that the F-35 will be in its low observable strike configuration. This would be two internal air-to-ground weapons and two air-to-air AIM-120s. Since no weapons have been cleared on the F-35 we don't know what it will end up with. Clearing weapons from those canted bomber doors will not be trivial or high-manoeuvre envelope like the F-22.
2. HOBS infra-red imaging missiles are deadly. The world market now has HOBS missiles that are more lethal than the R-73M. All of these missiles have the ability to reject decoy flares. I give them a much higher probability of kill (PK) than any other missile.
3. PK for the radar missiles are low. In real live combat vs. poor threats, the U.S. AIM-120 PK is around 50 percent. The SU-35 counters this with cross-eye jamming from the wing tips. The SU-35 will also have the performance to reduce the no-escape-zone (NEZ) of enemy missiles before and after they have been fired. Half of 50 percent and then half of that again for the AIM-120 PK.
The nose-on low observability of the F-35 should be good enough to reduce the R-77 down to a poor PK. The distinction of nose-on aspect is important. That is the location of the F-35's low observable strength. The low-observable qualities of the F-35 are matched to be effective against the frequency band of this kind of threat.
4. Both aircraft will be detected. The SU does not have enough low observable quality. The F-35 will not be able to be stealthy against the infra-red-search and track (IRST) and L-band sensors of the big SU.
5. The F-35 does not have the ability to pick its fight once both aircraft are within reach. The SU-35 has the performance to decide when and how it wants to engage the F-35. This concept has not changed since the P-38 and Corsair appeared in the Pacific theater of WWII.
6. The fight assumes that the SU-35 will make it to within-visual-range (WVR) combat. The SU-35 will have a significant agility and performance advantage over the F-35.
7. Both aircraft are networked. Also, network nodes can be geo-located and jammed if support resources exist.
8. Guns are not included in this comparison. Also consider that for some events, the B model and C model F-35 may have left their deck that day without a gun.
From this we can see that HOBS are deadly and that radar missiles can be made ineffective. While the F-35 may carry a lot of external missiles someday, this defeats its reason to exist. Legacy aircraft can do the same. The U.K. (if they ever see their F-35s) will field theirs for internal carry of the AIM-132; a good HOBS missile. I wouldn't depend on the MOD. They are on fiscal death-watch.
In any event, the gross assumptions by the marketing pukes that the F-35 will be lethal in air-to-air combat are just that; marketing.
This goes back to the argument of the F-22; which because of its performance, and stealth quality, is the only aircraft with a chance of being survivable against, yes, "next-generation" threats.
I think it is fair to say that when some people opine that the real limitation to the F-35 is cost and sustainment, they fail to address that what is being marketed is a death-trap against threats the aircraft is likely to see over its alleged service life.