In an ironic turn, nearly 80 years after Stalin derided the Pope of the Catholic Church by asking how many divisions he had, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, now owns one of the most advanced combat jets in the world. After giving workers at a Sukhoi Company plant icons he had blessed, Patriarch Kirill was presented with an Su-35, the church reported. Kirill, who has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, had just addressed the Sukhoi employees about the importance of protecting Russia.
The Su-35 is a single-seat, twin-engine jet known for its maneuverability. There are two versions of the fighter; the more recent includes thrust-vectoring engines with more than 19,000 pounds of thrust, each-over 31,000 pounds with afterburner. Maximum speed is reported to be Mach 2.25, with a ceiling of over 59,000 feet and a maximum range of over 2400 nautical miles. It comes with a 30 mm cannon and can be armed with an array of rockets, missiles and bombs and contains the latest electronic warfare avionics suite. There is no indication as to whether Patriarch Kirill is a pilot and the church has not reported what he intends to do with his new jet.