Sukhoi Su-57: Why Russia Won’t Use Its Most Advanced Stealth Fighter in Ukraine

The Sukhoi Su-57 is arguably one of the best fighter jets flying today... But only a few costly prototypes have been built so far – and Russia is hardly willing to risk them.
Sukhoi Su-57

The Russian military has been busy in recent years upgrading its arsenal with some of the most advanced weapons in the world. One such weapon is the Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter jet. 

However, planning new weapons is simple for Russia, but mass-producing them seems to be quite a challenge for its military industry – and the Su-57 is another example of the struggles Russia’s industry is going through.

The Powerful Sukhoi Su-57

Su-57
Su-57 by Su-57. Licensed under CC by 4.0

This fighter jet is a state-of-the-art aircraft designed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat. 

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When the Sukhoi Su-57 first debuted in 2010 it was hailed as a game-changer for the Russian military since this fifth-generation fighter was designed to provide air superiority against U.S. aircraft, and boasted a number of cutting-edge features, including stealth technology and supersonic speed.

Also, it is equipped with a modern engine, sophisticated avionics, and a unique stealth capability that makes it difficult for enemy radars to detect.

But… Russia is not willing to risk the Sukhoi Su-57 in Ukraine

Actually, Russia has already sent the Su-57 to Ukraine, but with very limited missions and minimal risk. This is because they are prototypes, and the Russian military cannot afford to lose them.

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However, the Su-57 has played an important role in Russia’s military operations in Syria and Ukraine.

In Syria, it could move freely because of the low risk of being shot down. But in Ukraine, it is generally used from Russian soil or in low-risk missions to make sure the Su-57s will come back to their headquarters.

The Sukhoi Su-57 can’t be mass-produced yet

Russian Air Force Su-57
Russian Air Force Su-57 by Anna Zvereva. LAnna Zvereva CC by 2.0

The Su-57 has yet to be mass-produced, but it is an extraordinarily complex aircraft for the Russian industry.

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Russian factories have had a hard time keeping up with the demand for parts, dealing with the American sanctions, and managing the costs of the war in Ukraine.

In addition, the Sukhoi Su-57 is still undergoing testing, and it is not expected to be ready for combat until 2025 at the earliest.

As a result, the Russian military has been forced to rely on older jets for now, although it remains hopeful that the Su-57 will eventually be mass-produced.

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How many Su-57 are there? Is it really stealthy?

Су-57
Су-57 by Vladislav06112019. Licensed under CC by 4.0

Reports suggest that there are between 12 to 16 Su-57s in service today, but this number is not enough to achieve overwhelming air supremacy.

So, the Su-57s won’t probably make any difference in the war in the short term.

That’s why the mass production of this aircraft is the Russian Air Force’s biggest priority in the event that the war continues in the coming years.

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The Su-57 is designed to be a stealth fighter, and it uses several different methods to avoid being detected. However, the Su-57 is not yet ready for combat, and it still needs to be tested in real-world conditions.

This aircraft hasn’t been tested in difficult combat conditions, and little is known about its stealth capability beyond its technical aspects.

So, to know its full capabilities, it will be necessary to wait for the aircraft to start taking on much more critical missions and fight frequently.

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Russia could send the Su-57 to Ukraine but it is obviously risky

The Su-57 is essential for Russia because it represents the best of its military industry and is the only fifth-generation aircraft Russia has right now.

But, as it hasn’t been deployed massively, it’s hard to know how powerful it really is.


Featured image credit: Sukhoi Su-57 by Anna Zvereva. Licensed under CC by 2.0

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