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​There's Only a Dozen russian Su-57 to Take Newest Kh-69 Missile

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Archve photo: russian Su-57 fighter aircraft is rolled out of the workshop / Open source illustrative photo
Archve photo: russian Su-57 fighter aircraft is rolled out of the workshop / Open source illustrative photo

Briefly about the use of Su-57 in the war in Ukraine and how many of them is available to the russian air force

Common for other instances, air raid alerts due to activity of russian Su-57 multirole fighters feels like a new trend in Ukraine. The first ones to report threat coming from the Su-57s were unofficial monitoring communities claiming that this aircraft might be carrying Kh-69 attack missiles.

Although not willing to either confirm or refute the connection between Su-57 sorties and the new missile, Ukrainian officials admit when a Su-57 takes off, the alert is announced for the regions assumed to be the target. This is what Maj. Illia Yevlash, spokesperson of the Ukrainian Air Force, told journalists at United News telethon, as cited by ArmyInform. He added that the data for threat assessment comes from various sources, including Ukraine's allied countries.

Read more: Expert`s Opinion: russians Can Use Not Only Su-57 Aircraft to Launch New Kh-69 Missile
russians report on the transfer of new Su-57s to the russian air force, December 2022 / Defense Express / There's Only a Dozen russian Su-57 to Take Newest Kh-69 Missile
russians report on the transfer of new Su-57s to the russian Aerospace Forces, December 2022 / Open source photo

Contrary to the impression, in fact, this is not the first time russia deploys its latest Su-57 stealth fighter to shell Ukraine. First reported in April 2022, a Su-57 was dispatched to launch a standoff strike with Kh-59 missiles at Ukrainian facilities in central and southern parts of the country. Then, according to a British intelligence report from January 2023, russia continued to send Su-57 in to attack targets both on the ground and in the air.

That intelligence update also mentioned at least five Su-57 jets were deployed at the 929th State Flight Test Centre airbase in Akhtubinsk, but said nothing about the frequency of them taking off for combat missions.

Su-57s at the flight test center in Akhtubinsk / Defense Express / There's Only a Dozen russian Su-57 to Take Newest Kh-69 Missile
Su-57s at the flight test center in Akhtubinsk / Satellite imagery credit: UK Ministry of Defense

Overall, russian Aerospace Forces have over ten Su-57 fighters, Defense Express assumes based on russian statements dated late 2022 that the Kremlin's defense industry had produced six Su-57 aircraft that year, bringing the total number to ten units. Plus an unspecified number of Su-57s were delivered to the russian forces in 2023, as assessed by the American International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Then, the quantity of missiles each aircraft can take, there are speculations that the number is four, all loaded inside the internal weapon bays.

/ Defense Express / There's Only a Dozen russian Su-57 to Take Newest Kh-69 Missile
Hypothetical layout of the Kh-69 missiles in the weapon bays of the Su-57 fighter / Open-source illustrative image

Key specifications of the SU-57:

  • fuselage length and wingspan: 19.8 meters and 14 meters, respectively;
  • maximum take-off weight and load capacity: 35.5 tons and 4.3 tons, respectively;
  • declared maximum speed and flight range: 2,600 km/h and 3,500 kilometers, respectively.
Read more: ​It Seems That Ukraine's Western Allies Cannot Determine with Losses of russian Aviation