Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Russian Su-57 Fighter “Spotted” Near Ukrainian Border; Has Moscow Deployed Its Stealth Jets For Critical Ops?

A video recently emerged purportedly showing Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter jet flying along the border with Ukraine. 

In the video, the aircraft can be seen performing a series of maneuvers, and the clip ends by showing the fighter soaring vertically upwards. It is not precisely clear where along the border with Ukraine the Su-57 was spotted.

Ukrainian forces have been conducting attacks inside Russia, particularly in Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod oblasts.

The latest instance of one such attack was reported in the village of Dragunskoye in the Belgorod region. On September 25, a drone armed with an improvised explosive device (IED) is said to have attacked the Frunzenskaya power substation.

Shortly before that, there was also a suspected drone attack at the Zernovo border checkpoint in the Bryansk region of Russia on September 10, which reportedly injured 3 Russian soldiers.

Russian media reports suggest the Su-57 could control the Russian airspace in the bordering areas with Ukraine to defend against unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and thwart missiles fired by Ukrainian armed forces.

That said, the authenticity of the video is questionable. EurAsian Times asked veteran Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter pilot Squadron Leader Vijainder Thakur what he thought about the video.

Thakur said that the video appears to be fake while explaining that the aircraft in the video is performing demonstration maneuvers, not combat manoeuvers.

Su-57
Su-57 (File photo/Wikimedia Commons)

“A Su-57 participating in combat would not be seen from the ground. Low observable aircraft such as the Felon is designed for medium-altitude operations where they are not exposed to MANPADS,” Thakur said.

The latest video is the second documented instance suggesting the involvement of Su-57 in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Previous Instances Of Su-57 Involvement

Before this, a video had emerged in March allegedly showing Su-57 in the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine.

The video was reportedly filmed in the Berdichev area of Zhytomyr. It purportedly shows the fighter aircraft carrying out a strike, presumably targeting the Berdychiv bridge over the Teterev river.

There were speculations at the time that Russia’s Southern Military District had deployed the fifth-generation jet allegedly seen in the video. Nevertheless, the video quality was inferior to ascertaining the plane involved.

Apart from that, there have been claims by the Russian state-owned media outlets of the involvement of Su-57s in the Ukraine war.

In May, the TASS news agency reported that the Russian military began using Su-57 fighters in Ukraine two to three weeks after Russia’s special operation in February.

The claims made by the TASS news agency were followed by a report on June 9 from another Russian state-owned media, Ria Novosti, which said, based on the information from a source, that four Su-57 fighter jets operating in a network, identified and destroyed Ukrainian air defense systems.

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 operate within the safety of the Russian airspace, only firing stand-off missiles at Ukrainian targets.

Image
Sukhoi Su-57 Felon (via Twitter)

This suggests 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.

Experts commented that if the Su-57 is as stealthy as its American peers, the aircraft can be expected to fly undetected inside the Ukrainian airspace to suppress enemy air defenses.

“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,” Billie Flynn, a former F-35 Lightning II Senior Experimental Test Pilot, told EurAsian Times.

A loss of even a single Su-57 to a Ukrainian SAM would provide Ukraine with a huge PR gain and raise doubts about the stealth characteristics of the Felon.

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