The reason Russia’s Su-57 fighter plane has only conducted limited operations in Ukraine

Russia has finally broken its silence on speculation regarding the use of fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jets in the military campaign in Ukraine.

General Sergei Surovikin, leader of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, told the press on October 18:

“I specifically wanted to choose the Russian Su-57 5th generation fighter to boost combat effectiveness.” Because of the variety of weaponry, this fighter is capable of attacking both air and ground targets throughout each sortie.”

The Su-57 has proven to be effective in both air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks on the battlefield.

Russia utilised the Su-57 aircraft on the Syrian conflict in 2018. At the time, the Russian State Duma’s Aviation Expert Council stated:

“The deployment of four jets in Syria has given us new information about the Su-57’s capabilities to identify US F-22 and F-35 fighter activities in the same area.”

Air-to-air missiles

Many Western experts feel the Su-57 is more vulnerable to radar detection than US stealth planes like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning.

However, according to some military experts, the front of this aircraft has very high stealth capabilities, though this characteristic on the side and rear of the Su-57 is more limited.

That means that if the Su-57 flew at the same altitude as the US E-3 or E-8 AWACS early warning planes and moved straight ahead of them, the planes would have a tough time tracking the Su-57.

When in air-to-ground or air-to-air assault mode, ground-based radars and AWACS early warning aircraft will struggle to detect the Su-57. As a result, the Su-57 can simply fly to the proper range to launch weapons and attack the target while remaining undetected by the opponent.

The Su-57 is equipped with R-37M (RVV-BD) long-range missiles, K-77M medium-range missiles, and two short-range missiles, R-74M2 and Izdeliye 300M, for air combat. The R-74M2 is an improved version of the R-74 that is kept in the internal weapons compartment, whilst the Izdeliye 300M is an improved version of the Izdeliye 300 that uses a solid fuel engine and an enhanced vector steering mechanism.

There have been no reports of a close encounter between the Su-57 fighter plane and the Ukrainian fighter, nor have there been any photos of the Su-57 in Ukrainian airspace. If this fighter hits an air target, it will have to use K-77M or R-37M missiles.

The R-37M weighs 600 kg, is 4.2 m long, has a range of 300 km, and can reach speeds of Mach 6 (7,350 km/h). The K-77M has a range of 190 km. Both rockets use dual pulse solid rocket engines. They are less sensitive to jamming and are better able to lock on to targets, even with stealth aircraft, because to the integrated active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

Air-to-ground weapons

According to observers, Russia is expected to utilise only short-range air-to-surface missiles that can be placed inside the Su-57’s internal weapons bay rather than outside. Because dangling guns outside exposes the Su-57 to adversary early warning aircraft.

In this case, the Su-57 will be armed with the anti-radiation missile Kh-58UshKE, which has a range of 245 kilometres, and the stealth cruise missile Kh-59MK2 (aka X-59MKM). has a range of 285 kilometres

The Kh-59MKM is designed to strike a variety of fixed ground targets with specified coordinates using a “launch and forget” philosophy. As long as the light band reaches 105 lux, it may fly over any terrain and at any time of year (for the camera to recognize).

The missile hovers over the terrain while flying along a predetermined path determined by the reference point. The top cruise speed is 1050 kilometres per hour. According to reports, Kh-59MKM can penetrate reinforced concrete up to 3 metres thick.

Su-57 fighters have next-generation radar and sensor equipment, allowing them to collect information about targets and transfer it to commanding planes via a single network.

The Su-57 can communicate with other aircraft, command and control centres on land, in the air, or at sea thanks to the integration of the S-111 communication system. The Su-57 can communicate with the command post and identify Ukrainian air defence radars while operating on the battlefield.

It is not surprising that some modern weapons, like the Su-57, have been used in Ukraine; real-world combat testing is one of the methods used to identify a weapon’s strengths and weaknesses. This aids in the development of both technique and application.

Although the Su-57 has been used in Syria, analysts claim that Russia may still need to test a number of its capabilities before utilising this fighter as one of its primary weapons in Ukraine.

Currently, Russia is still being very cautious when using the Su-57 on the battlefield, and its use is almost exclusively restricted to single attacks or the creation of tactical information networks.

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