Ukrainian drones may have hit a second Su-57 stealth fighter

It is increasingly clear that a Ukrainian drone seriously damaged, and possibly destroyed, a Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter during a Saturday raid on the test center in Russian state flight from Akhtubinsk, in southern Russia, 365 miles from the Russian-Ukrainian border.

And it is possible that a second The Su-57 – one of around 20 Su-57s acquired by the Russian Air Force since the first such flight in 2010 – was also damaged in the raid. “There is preliminary information that two Su-57 aircraft may be hit,” Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s intelligence services, said on Sunday.

This is a credible claim, although photographic evidence has yet to emerge. The Russian Air Force concentrates many of its best warplanes in development at the Akhtubinsk State Flight Test Center, including the new Sukhoi Su-35 fighters, Okhotnik drones and, of course, the Su-57, which is the Russian answer to the American Lockheed Martin F. 22 stealth fighters.

As recently as 2019, there were at least six twin-engine, supersonic Su-57s in Akhtubinsk. Ground crews routinely parked the aircraft avoiding radars in the open, sparking a bitter protest from the Fighterbomber Telegram channel, a popular forum for Russian aviators and their boosters.

Fighterbomber asked why, 28 months into Russia’s broader war against Ukraine, the Air Force had not built hardened shelters for its most valuable aircraft, including the Su-57 which, according to Fighterbomber himself, had suffered shrapnel damage during Saturday’s drone raid.

“For the price of this Su-57 alone, shelters… could be built,” Fighterbomber pointed out. But only “if you don’t intimidate [the contractors] Along the way and don’t give bribes.

The shortage of reinforced aircraft shelters is not a problem unique to Russia. The Ukrainians also have the bad habit of occasionally parking their warplanes in the open on airfields within range of Russian Lancet drones.

But the Ukrainians are hitting Russian airfields more effectively than the Russians are hitting Ukrainian airfields – thanks in large part to Ukraine’s growing stock of long-range attack drones and the relative slowness of Russian decision-making.

Ukrainian Air Force commanders frequently, sometimes more than once a day, disperse their planes across a vast network of small airfields and even highway airstrips – all in a preemptive effort to complicate Russian raids on parked planes.

Russian Air Force commanders do no such thing. When Russian aircraft change bases, it is usually the result of a long-planned move, often in response to particular bases. Many times be attacked by Ukrainian rockets or drones.

Either way, Akhtubinsk is special. “With its airfield, laboratories, extensive test areas, firing ranges and intriguing new bunker complexes, the Akhtubinsk National Flight Test Center… has become one of the most valuable assets valuable of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation,” said the Dutch aircraft tracking site Scramble. note.

The base’s Su-57s are there because it is the best, perhaps only, site for testing the planes’ unique stealth qualities.

The Russian Air Force may not be able to move surviving Su-57s from Akhtubinsk without jeopardizing the type’s development. But if he understands the danger posed by Ukrainian Su-57 drones – and for all Russian Warplanes: The Air Force may want to follow the Fighterbomber’s advice and build shelters.

The millions of Ukrainians who have suffered from indiscriminate Russian air raids since 2022 surely hope that the Russian Air Force doesn’t heed this wise advice.

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1. RBC:

2. Fighter-bomber:

3. Scramble:

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