September 29, 2022

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Russia claims its Su-57 jet is performing brilliantly in Ukraine, but there is no evidence it is being used in war

Russia claims its Su-57 fighter jet is performing “brilliantly” in Ukraine, but there is little evidence that the plane it says is fifth-generation is actually in use there.

Despite the overall modest performance of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the skies over Ukraine during the Russian invasion, Russian military leaders nevertheless claim that new prestige weapons, such as the Su-57 Felon fighter jet, have performed well throughout the conflict in the neighboring country .

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has stated that the Su-57 Felon was already used “brilliantly” in combat during the invasion of Russia, but evidence that the aircraft participated in combat there appears to be non-existent.

In an interview with the state-controlled television station Rossiya-1, Minister Shoigu said that Felon “showed himself brilliantly” during Russia’s so-called “special military operation”, according to Insider.

Why wouldn’t it be considered a fifth generation aircraft

In particular, Shoigu stopped short of pointing out the alleged anti-aircraft protections on board the aircraft, as well as the utility of its offensive weaponry, in response to a question about the aircraft’s combat engagement in Ukraine.

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Moscow claims that by using the Su-57, Moscow is trying for the first time to develop a fifth-generation fighter jet.

However, while much of what is known about the Su-57 is based on information published by Russia or leaked to outside observers, it is highly unlikely that the Su-57 Felon, as as it is dubbed under its NATO reporting name, to possess many of the key features of a fifth-generation aircraft.

For an aircraft to be generally considered fifth generation, it must possess specific technical characteristics, such as the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without afterburning, as well as the ability to serve as a network hub for other assets military.

However, the defining characteristic of belonging to the fifth generation club can be considered the stealth capability, which Russia seems to be striving to implement in the Su-57.

Shoigu, exaggerated statements about the Su-57?

Due to a number of technical challenges in the development of various aspects of the Su-57, such as gluing the body panels to the aircraft tightly enough to reduce the Su-57’s radar profile, or difficulties in equipping the aircraft with stealth-capable engines, the stealth capability of the Su-57 is debatable.

However, Russia appears to be very interested in giving the Su-57 the networking capabilities that are so valued in fifth-generation aircraft, which can be seen in Russia’s association of the S-70 Okhotnik as a “loyal comrade ” of the Su-57, with which it is designed to work in combat.

Although the Su-57 is reportedly equipped to carry a combination of air-to-air and beyond-visual-range missiles, as well as air-to-surface missiles or precision-guided bombs, the lack of confirmed combat experience of the Su -57 makes these claims difficult to confirm.

Despite Shoigu’s exaggeration of the Su-57’s alleged performance in Ukraine, it is unlikely that the Su-57 has seen combat in Ukraine to date – or at all.

No evidence that Russia used the Su-57 in Syria either

Moscow first claimed that the Su-57 saw its first combat experience in 2018 as part of Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war on behalf of the country’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad. However, no evidence of its use in combat in Syria has emerged.

Despite Russian claims in May 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, that the Su-57 aircraft first saw combat in Ukraine in the first two to three weeks after the invasion, evidence of the Su-57’s participation in combat was just as few.

According to anonymous Russian military industry sources who spoke to Russian state media, Russia’s Su-57s fired missiles at targets in Ukraine at long ranges, which would be difficult to conclusively prove or disprove.

With less than 10 Su-57s likely in the Russian fleet today, Russia has remained hesitant to deploy and potentially risk the embarrassing destruction of a prestige system like the Su-57 in combat.

To avoid specific questions about the status of the Su-57, of which it hopes to acquire 76 by 2028, Russia will likely continue to claim the Su-57’s battlefield successes without actually using them in operations in Ukraine.

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