Russian state-owned media has revealed that four Su-57 fighter jets destroyed Ukrainian air defense systems.
A video surfaced on the internet allegedly showing a Su-57 fighter jet flying over the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine. There were speculations at the time that Russia’s Southern Military District deployed the jet.
According to the TASS, the Su-57 has been operating outside the kill zone of Ukrainian air defense systems using missiles. Experts suggest that the aircraft may be operating within the safety of the Russian airspace, only firing stand-off missiles at Ukrainian targets.
EurAsian Times reported that if true, this would mean a minimal role for Russia’s first stealth aircraft and the only fifth-generation fighter jet which Russia touts as an airplane that surpasses the F-22 and F-35.
Billie Flynn, a former F-35 Lightning II Senior Experimental Test Pilot, agreed with this suggestion when asked about it by EurAsian Times.
“Su-57 is not survivable in a high threat SAM (surface-to-air missile) environment at this point in its development, so would not be deployed within range of any Ukrainian SAMs,” he said.
Moreover, it is also the question of whether Russia has enough Su-57s to make any meaningful impact on the course of the ongoing war in Ukraine, where the Russian military has failed to establish control over the skies.
“There are not enough Su-57 operating to make any appreciable contribution to the invasion of Ukraine,” Flynn told EurAsian Times.
As of March, the Russian Su-57 fleet appeared to have only three aircraft, according to a EurAsian Times report.
A total of four aircraft were known to be produced. The first crashed in 2019 before being delivered to the military. The second aircraft was delivered in December 2020, and the third and fourth aircraft were delivered to the VKS late in 2021.
One of the two aircraft delivered in 2021 had the number ’52’ written in blue on its airframe, suggesting it was the fourth, and the third could be numbered ’51’.
The third serial Su-57 tail number “52 blue,” as seen in the promotional video in January of Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant, named after Yu.A. Gagarin.
However, the latest reports from May indicate that two more serially produced aircraft might have joined the VKS’ Su-57 fleet.
According to Russian-language news and social media, two new serially produced Su-57 with airframes numbered ’53’ and ’54’ in red were spotted at the Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport in Siberia, Russia, in late May.
Two Su-57s With Airframes Numbered ’53’ and ’54’ in red were allegedly spotted at the Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport in Siberia, Russia, in late May (NskPlanes/VK). Therefore, Russia may have five Su-57s, excluding the prototypes.