MOSCOW ($1=61.75 Russian Rubles) — Russia claims its Su-57 stealth fighter performed “brilliantly” at the start of hostilities in Ukraine. The statement came from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. He did so during an interview on state-controlled Rossiya-1 television.
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Shoigu emphasized that the onboard defense of the Su-57 was able to avoid the enemy’s air defense. The Russian minister also praised the aircraft’s “offensive weaponry usefulness”.
Shoigu’s claims were backed up by similar statements from Russian defense industry sources. In interviews with various Russian media, they claimed that the Su-57 “fired missiles” at Ukrainian targets from a distance.
Are the claims true?
In truth, there is no evidence that Russia used the Su-57 in the so-called “special military operation”. Proving such claims is difficult, but so is disproving them.
The armament of the Su-57 is similar to that of the Su-35. Missiles fired from a distance at Ukrainian targets may have been carried out by both aircraft, but it is difficult to prove which aircraft did it.
Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defenses were made up of mostly Soviet or Russian-designed systems, and outdated ones at that. The interception of the Su-57 over Ukraine, as well as the “brilliant performance” of the onboard equipment of the Su-57, are difficult to prove.
The only known fact is that the Su-57 was tested in Syria. This is evidenced by satellite photos of the Su-57 at the Russian Khmeinin Air Base. Experts say it is unlikely that the Russian Air Force used the Su-57 in the war in Ukraine. Currently, Russia has less than ten units of this fighter.
Briefly about the Su-57
The Su-57 claims to be a fifth-generation fighter and the first such fighter in the inventory of the Russian Air Force. The Su-57 is a multirole twin-engine fighter developed over ten years in Russia.
Prototypes of the Su-57 are known as the T-50. In the period 2010 – 2013, five T-50 prototypes passed various tests. In 2011, the T-50 reaches supersonic speed. Almost all tests of the T-50 are carried out from the airport in Komsomolsk on the Amur. In 2018, two Su-57 prototypes landed at the Russian airbase in Syria – Khmeinin.
The Su-57 is powered by two Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofans, 88.3 kN (19,900 lbf) thrust each dry, 142.2 kN [32,000 lbf] with afterburner, 147.1 kN [33,100 lbf] in emergency power. In 2023, according to the plans of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Su-57 should receive an engine known as the Izdelie 30. It is believed that this engine will bring the Su-57 closer to the “fifth generation fighter” category.
The range of the Su-57 is 3,500 km. The maximum speed it can develop is Mach 2 [2,135 km/h; 1,327 mph] at altitude. Its g limit is +9.0 and the service ceiling is about 20,000 m.
The Su-57 is armed with one 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon. The air-to-air missiles are the R-77M and R-74M2. The air-to-ground missiles are Kh-38M and Kh-59MK2, and they can carry a maximum of four of them. The aircraft is armed with two anti-ship missiles and four anti-radiation missiles.
The Su-57 has an integrated Sh-121 multifunctional integrated radio electronic system [MIRES], N036-1-01 Frontal X-band active electronically scanned array [AESA] radar, N036B-1-01 Cheek X-band AESA radars for increased angular coverage and N036L-1-01 Slat L-band arrays for IFF. The aircraft also has a 101KS Atoll electro-optical targeting system.
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