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    HomeMilitaryRamping Up the Stealth Game: Russia’s Su-57 Fleet Expansion Amidst Ukraine Conflict

    Ramping Up the Stealth Game: Russia’s Su-57 Fleet Expansion Amidst Ukraine Conflict

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    On December 27, 2023, a notable event in the landscape of military aviation unfolded as Russia declared the delivery of the final batch of Su-57 fifth-generation fighters for the year, fulfilling its state defense order.

    Amidst escalating tensions and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the announcement from the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) comes with the backdrop of an increase in production capacity for the Su-57, showcasing Moscow’s determination to ramp up its advanced fighter jet capabilities.

    Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Rostec, encapsulated the sentiment with his statement, “The number of fifth-generation fighters entering the military almost doubles every year,” indicating a robust projection for the Su-57 production in 2024.

    As the Russian military machine churns forward, the implications of these developments become clear. While Russia aims to double its Su-57 production and has successfully delivered 22 aircraft, with 15 more expected in 2024, the potency of the Su-57 and its stealth features remain a source of speculation.

    Despite the increased numbers, the operational use of the Su-57 in Ukraine remains limited. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the fighters are primarily used for operational testing, tactics development, and training, with the Russian Air Force possibly raising its first operational regiment of the aircraft.

    The Su-57, with its touted front-aspect stealth capabilities, is regarded as capable of operating closer to the battlefront without detection by air defense radars compared to other Russian fighters.

    It’s postulated that the Su-57 can evade the powerful AN/MPQ-65 search radar of US Patriot air defense systems, a factor that could shift the balance in aerial engagements.

    The Su-57’s effectiveness in dark mode operations and the aircraft’s armament, including stealth and hypersonic missiles like the Kh-69 and Gremlin, enhance its standoff capabilities.

    These advanced armaments are designed to penetrate and neutralize targets with minimal risk of interception, potentially altering the operational landscape. Despite these advantages, evidence of the Su-57’s combat effectiveness remains ambiguous.

    Controversially, the aircraft’s first claimed combat deployment was over Syria in 2018, and later, in May 2022, Russia stated that the Su-57 had been used against Ukraine.

    Yet, no concrete data on the Su-57’s performance in these theatres has been presented, raising questions about its actual combat provenness.

    Moreover, Ukrainian anti-air crews claim significant achievements in the aerial domain, having reportedly downed several Russian aircraft, although these do not include the Su-57.

    The downing of Russian jets suggests a challenging operating environment, potentially questioning the efficacy of the Su-57 against well-equipped adversaries.

    In the wake of significant losses and the looming arrival of Western F-16 fighter jets to aid Ukraine, the pressure is mounting on the Russian air force. Michael Bohnert, an engineer at the RAND Corporation, highlights the toll of a protracted conflict on the longevity of military forces, stating, “Overuse of these aircraft is also costing Russia as the war drags on.”

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