Russia’s first batch of fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter jets will be used for testing hypersonic air-launched weapons, the country’s military has confirmed.
Hypersonic weapons, which mainly consist of hypersonic cruise missiles and hypersonic glide vehicles, have the ability to travel five or more times faster than the speed of sound.
According to a source in Russia’s defense-industrial complex, the country’s most advanced fighter, the Su-57, will carry out the tests of these weapons at the flight test center in Akhtubinsk town.
“The first serially produced Su-57 was delivered to the Akhtubinsk center at the end of November. It will be used for testing the newest air-launched hypersonic means of attack,” said the source.
According to reports, JSC Tactical Missiles Corporation, Russia’s major weapon manufacturer which is headquartered in Korolyov, is developing a number of fundamentally new air-launched attack weapons.
At the moment, only the Mikoyan MiG-31K fighter jets, stationed in the Southern Military District, possess the ability to carry hypersonic missiles like the Kinzhal.
The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, which means “dagger”, is Russia’s nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM), with a range of over 2,000 kilometers, as has been claimed.
Reports suggest the missile can attain speeds of Mach 10, perform evasive maneuvers at every stage of its flight, and can carry both conventional as well as nuclear warheads.
The sources said the first serial multirole Su-57 fighter was delivered to an air regiment in the Southern Military District earlier, with another four such fighters to be provided next year.
The single-seat, twin-engine Su-57 multirole aircraft has been designed to destroy all types of air, ground, and naval targets. While the fighter jet took its maiden flight 10 years ago, it has still not entered service.
It is considered the most advanced fighter made to date in Russia, and possesses supercruise, supermaneuverability, alongside advanced avionics to surpass the capabilities of the prior generation fighters.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the Defense Ministry’s board meeting earlier this month that 22 Su-57 jets would be provided to the Russian armed forces by the end of 2024.
A total of 76 Su-57 fighters are scheduled to be supplied by the end of 2028 as per a contract signed last year. Moreover, the fighters will be equipped with second-stage engines starting from the year 2022.