The latest defense intelligence update by the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) concludes that the Russian Air Force has almost certainly deployed its state-of-the-art Su-57 multi-role fighter jet in Ukraine.
The points of the update are the following:
Since June 2022, the Russian air force has “almost certainly” used the Su-57 in Ukraine. The fighter-bomber, codenamed “Felon” by NATO forces, is Russia’s fifth-generation stealth aircraft. According to the report, the aircraft has a good chance of operating over Russian territory and attacking air and ground targets with long-range missiles.
The Russian Air Force houses the Su-57s at the Ahtubinsk air base, the only air base where these aircraft are in service.
Its leadership does not use the Su-57s or other Russian military aircraft more intensively because if they suffer serious losses, these would significantly damage the export prospects of Russia’s military industry.
This is the first time that Western organizations have confirmed the Russian Air Force has used Su-57s against Ukraine.
The Su-57 is Russia’s most modern military aircraft, the result of the PAK FA program. The fighter-bomber entered service in 2020 and was first used in the Syrian conflict, although in a very limited capacity. As a fifth-generation stealth fighter-bomber, the Russian Su-57 is on paper equivalent to the US F-22 and F-35. However, it is not known how the fighter truly stacks up against NATO’s most advanced fighter jets.
The Russian Air Force has a total of 76 Su-57s on order, and according to the manufacturer, as of December 2022, 10 had been delivered.