After Devastating Su-57 Loss, Russia Puts Its Stealth Fighters Back In Action With Massive Missile Strike On Ukrainian Positions

Days after being damaged by a Ukrainian drone strike, Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighter jet has made a comeback with a massive missile strike on Ukrainian positions.

Russia ‘Doubles’ Su-57 Production; Ukraine’s F-16 Fighters Likely To Face The Wrath Of RuAF Stealth Jets

Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk reportedly announced that Russia launched an overnight missile attack on June 20-21 from its cutting-edge Su-57 fighter jets. The Commander emphasized that the Ukrainian air defense was able to destroy all four of the Kh-59/Kh-69 guided air missiles launched by the Russian stealth fighter.

He noted that Ukraine’s air defense units shot down the missiles over the oblasts of Kherson and Kirovohrad, which have seen intense fighting in recent days. The threat posed by night missiles prompted the declaration of an air alert in several oblasts in the east, south, and north of Ukraine.

EurAsian Times has not been able to verify these claims while writing this report.

So far, Russia has deployed the Su-57 for limited combat roles. In April this year, Ilya Yevlash, the Head of Public Relations for Ukraine’s Air Force, revealed in an interview that Russian forces have used the Su-57 aircraft, albeit cautiously, as they are aware of the potential threat posed by Ukrainian air defenses.

He said, “The Russians have already employed the Su-57 aircraft, but they are attempting to keep it at a safe distance since they are aware that it could be targeted by our air defense. This is a really pricey “rattle” that they protect. This is a costly but unique toy for them.”

At the time, Yevlash noted that the Su-57 was firing the Kh-69 missile, much like the recent claims. On February 18, escorted by two Su-35 jets, the Su-57 initiated a missile strike on Ukrainian targets. The aircraft allegedly utilized the advanced Kh-69 stealthy cruise missile specifically designed for the Su-57 platform.

As per reports, the Kh-69 is one of the most lethal missiles in Russian inventories which packs the destructiveness and precision of the Kh-101 and Kh-555 into a smaller and less observable size. It has a flight weight of 770 kilograms, carries warheads of various types weighing 310 kilograms, and is said to have a range of 290 kilometers.

File Image: KH-69

While Russian military bloggers have maintained that the missile is difficult to intercept, Ukraine has claimed to have shot down the munition on multiple occasions. The use of Su-57 is significant given that the Kremlin has come under scrutiny for not deploying the stealth aircraft for larger roles against Kyiv’s forces.

Earlier, a UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) intelligence update observed: “UK Ministry of Defence said, “Russia is highly likely prioritizing avoiding the reputational damage, reduced export prospects, and the compromise of sensitive technology which would come from any loss of FELON over Ukraine. This is symptomatic of Russia’s continued risk-averse approach to employing its air force in the war.”

For most of the ongoing conflict, Russia has deployed the Su-57 stealth aircraft in the so-called ‘special military operation’ zone only sparingly to conduct crucial combat patrols despite its inability to achieve air superiority over Ukraine.

Following the battle in Ukraine closely, military analysts have pointed out that Russia might have launched strikes and gained (at least) localized air supremacy by using its stealth aircraft, which can avoid radars and opposing air defenses.

As previously noted by EurAsian Times, the aircraft has also launched stand-off attacks using long-range missiles from Russian airspace where Ukrainian surface-to-air missiles cannot reach them.

Moreover, the recent claims come days after Ukraine managed to obliterate a Su-57 in an attack on a Russian airbase. 

File Image: Su-57. Via Wikipedia

Ukraine’s Destruction Of Su-57 

Ukraine’s military claimed on June 10 that it had successfully destroyed one of Russia’s latest and most advanced fighter jets, the Sukhoi Su-57. The strike reportedly carried out on a military base in the Astrakhan region, is notable in the ongoing conflict because it occurred nearly 600 kilometers (372 miles) behind the front lines.

Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence later published before-and-after satellite imagery of what it said revealed fire damage and debris around a Su-57 jet parked on an airfield. The service reportedly used a Ukrainian-made combat UAV to conduct the attack.

The jet’s destruction was seen as a massive setback to the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) since it is known to have just two dozen Su-57 fighter jets in inventory. Subsequent reports suggested that a second Su-57 had also suffered damages.

Despite claims of stealth and superiority, the Su-57 aircraft has remained conspicuously absent from the front lines of Ukraine, where Russian forces have been engaged in a protracted conflict. Instead, the Su-57 has been limited to launching missiles from within Russian airspace, a stark deviation from its touted role as a game-changer in modern warfare.

However, despite its absence from the warzone, Kyiv’s forces managed to obliterate the stealth jet, which has often been pitted against the US fifth-generation stealth jets: the F-22 Raptors and the F-35 Lightning II. Moreover, the attack also exposed the vulnerabilities of Russian air defense systems.

The attack was seen as a massive victory for Ukraine. At the same time, it came as a humiliation for the Kremlin, with pro-Ukrainian bloggers mocking the decapitation of the best jet in Russia’s arsenal. 

With Russia using the Su-57 aircraft days after its shocking destruction, it could be a message that the stealth jet is back in action.