Russia’s fifth-generation Su-57 stealth fighter jet, deployed in Ukraine albeit for minimal roles, is now set to receive long-range strike capability with a new air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) of intra-body placement.
“The latest KRBB (Long-range cruise missile) of intra-fuel placement has been developed for the Su-57. Although a smaller size, the missile has a range comparable to the munitions that are used in long-range aviation on Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic bombers,” a source was quoted as saying by Russian-language news agency RIA Novosti.
Elaborating on the smaller size of the munition, the source noted that “a significant reduction in the size of the new munition was achieved due to the perfectly honed design of the folding wing and internal layout, as well as the use of a new small-sized double-circuit turbojet engine.”
The report noted that long-range air-launched cruise missiles include shells capable of hitting a target at 600 kilometers. In general, the report specified that the Russian Aerospace Force uses cruise missiles ranging from 1,000 to 6,500 kilometers for long-range operations.
The development comes slightly over a month after the VKS reportedly equipped its newest Su-34M Fullback with Long Range Cruise Missiles (LRCMs). The long-range cruise missiles equipped on the Su-34M, or the Su-34NVO as it is popularly called in Russia, were fired into the so-called “special military operation zone” inside Ukraine.
❗️Russia has unveiled plans for a new aviation cruise missile designed for the Su-57 fighter jet. The country claims that despite its smaller size, the rocket matches the range of missiles used by long-range aviation on the Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic bombers 1/
— Rubryka – Solutions from Ukraine (@RubrykaEng) October 31, 2023
At the time, a source told the media, “As part of the SVO, using a long-range cruise missile with the Su-34, which had not previously been used on these aircraft, was tested. The missile is not new, like the aircraft. Still, they have not been used in one complex before, and the new solution increases the variability of use as a missile and the plane.”
The Russian authorities did not name the missiles at the time, much like the recent instance where the state media or the Russian MoD have stopped short of calling the long-range cruise missile produced for use by the Su-57.
Moreover, earlier this year, reports indicated that the fifth-generation Su-57 fighter could soon receive missiles that can hit targets at ranges of 300 kilometers, according to officials from Russia’s defense industry.
A report in TASS said, quoting an unnamed source in the military-industrial complex, that the Su-57 fighter “strikes targets at a distance of 120 kilometers (in the ongoing war), and aircraft missiles are expected to arrive soon, which will be able to hit targets at a distance of up to 300 kilometers.”
“Today, the fighter operates at a range of 120 km. Shortly, they are waiting for the arrival of aircraft missiles for high-speed air targets at a distance of up to 300 km,” the source added.
At the time, a EurAsian Times report had predicted that the unidentified weapon might be the 1989-introduced RVV-BD/R-37M air-to-air missile (AAM), an upgraded version of the R-37. It can be fired from both the Su-57 and the Su-35S, and it can engage both low- and high-altitude targets at a 300-kilometer range. However, the missile produced for the fifth-generation jet has yet to break cover.
Mounted between the engines and two side bays for short-range air-to-air missiles, the Su-57 features two sizable internal weapon bays. The ten internal and six external hardpoints can carry R-74M Archer and R-77M Adder air-to-air missile (AAM); Kh-38M air-to-surface missiles; Kh-31AD and Kh-35U anti-ship missiles and; Kh-31PD and Kh-58UShK anti-radiation missiles.
The integration of new long-range cruise missiles on the jet is crucial as it has been predicted that Russia could use the Su-57 for ground strike missions at a distance and steer clear of enemy territory to evade detection by US/NATO E-3 Sentry Airborne Early Warning (AEW) planes, which are constantly patrolling the bloc’s territory.
Russia Is Constantly Improvising
The Su-57, often known as Felon in NATO terminology, is a Russian multipurpose fighter of the fifth generation. The aircraft is intended for use in air-to-ground combat and air superiority/dominance. The aircraft features the newest onboard technology, radar-absorbing coating, internal secret weapons bays, and a supersonic cruise speed.
They are communications, pilot interface, and advanced cockpit. These might be technologies enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), according to Russian official media.
Vladimir Artyakov, First Deputy General Director of Rostec, noted this year that the Su-57 platform is evolving. “Its combat capabilities are increasing; the most modern technologies are being introduced into the vehicle. That is, its effectiveness continues to grow,” he told the media.
In addition, Artyakov declared that the current contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense would start to deliver Su-57 aircraft with second-stage engines. “Airplanes with the engine of the second stage are now undergoing flight tests. Already under the current serial contract, it is planned to supply the Su-57 with a new engine – the UEC and UAC are working on this,” Artyakov said.
He further added that the Su-57 is adapted for using the engine of both the first and second stages. “Even with the engine of the first stage, the fighter meets the basic requirements for a fifth-generation aircraft.”
Meanwhile, the Su-57s have reportedly been equipped with sensor fusion and data links that appeared to be supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI-ML). For tactical tasks such as target distribution, attack trajectory selection, missile launch timing, and enemy fighter interference, the gadget provided “intelligent support to help the pilot decide under time pressure (and) help pilots in a pair (to) quickly interact.” An AI-enabled communication system for the Su-57 was purportedly developed in April by Rostec Corporation.
The Su-57 has been deployed in Ukraine to perform patrols. It was reportedly used in Ukraine in a June 2022 Suppression of Enemy Air Defense/Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD/DEAD) operation safely from within Russian territory.
The Su-57 is currently under low initial rate serial production, which is planned to be stepped up in a phased manner. In fact, despite facing stringent international sanctions imposed in the wake of the invasion, the Russian military-industrial complex announced the successful delivery of a new batch of Su-57 ‘Felon’ and Su-35S fighter jets to the Russian Aerospace Force in September this year.
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