TechRussia's Su-57 jets debut in Ukraine with secretive Ch-69 missiles

Russia's Su‑57 jets debut in Ukraine with secretive Ch‑69 missiles

Su-57 airplane
Su-57 airplane
Images source: © Anna Zvereva, Lic. CC BY-SA 2.0, Бюро Сухого

7:47 AM EDT, May 2, 2024

Russians have recently begun deploying their latest Su-57 fighters to launch Ch-69 missiles at Ukrainian targets. The Defense Express portal has delved into these jets, touted by Putin himself as "the best planes," to ascertain the number Russia possesses.

The claim of having "the best planes in the world" garnered attention, primarily because British intelligence reports indicated a hesitation by Russia to use their newest T-14 Armata tanks and Su-57 planes in Ukraine. This reluctance was attributed to concerns over potentially tarnishing the reputation of this prized military hardware.

Modern fighters in Russia's arsenal

The Su-57s are not only seeing combat but are also deploying the highly secretive Ch-69 missile, which had been kept under wraps for years. Notably, there were indications of Su-57s over Ukraine as far back as 2022; however, at that time, the only evidence of their presence was satellite imagery of five units at a Russian experimental facility.

Assessing the exact count of "the best planes in the world" within the Russian fleet is challenging. Defense Express suspects there are likely only ten such aircraft, a figure based more on inference than solid data, given the absence of concrete information or evidence regarding Russia's Su-57 fleet size.

It's worth noting that the 5th generation Su-75 jets discussed were designed in 2021. Available data reveals that these jets can achieve a top speed of 1.8 Ma, or approximately 1367 mph, with an operational range of around 1740 miles.

Ch-69 missiles: Not exclusive to Su-57s

The Su-57 can carry 8.2 tons of weaponry, including the Ch-69 missiles, which only entered the limelight in 2023. Despite earlier hints at a new design in 2022, Moscow has been tight-lipped about the Ch-69's development. It's speculated to be a counterpart to the American AGM-158 JASSM missiles.

The Ch-69 measures over 13 feet in length and has an 8.2-foot wingspan. It weighs 1698 pounds, with the warhead contributing up to 661 pounds. It is powered by a dual-flow turbojet engine, the NPO Saturn TRDD-50 MT.

Though initially considered exclusive to Su-57 fighters, aviation expert Anatolii Khrapchynskyi points out that Su-35s can also carry the Ch-69. Furthermore, he notes that the Ch-69 can travel up to 249 miles, surpassing its predecessor, the Ch-59 missile, which has a range of 186 miles.

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