TechRussia's Su-57 launches stealth missiles in Ukraine, escalating conflict

Russia's Su‑57 launches stealth missiles in Ukraine, escalating conflict

Launching Su-57
Launching Su-57
Images source: © Weapon Maven

12:26 PM EDT, May 5, 2024

The Russian Su-57 is often heralded by Kremlin propaganda as a superweapon, though Western experts disagree. Despite scepticism, it appears the Russians have started deploying their most advanced aircraft for operations in Ukraine.

Illya Yevlash, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Forces, highlighted the deployment of Russian forces' Su-57. He reported that Russia employs the Su-57 in missile strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure. These aircraft execute their attacks from a considerable distance, steering clear of the frontline.

Evlash pointed out that the Su-57 was notably utilized in assaults on April 11 and 26, primarily serving as a platform for launching Kh-69 missiles. The Kh-69, an evolution of the Kh-59 missile showcased in 1991, has acquired stealth capabilities, reducing its detectability significantly.

Advancements in aerial warfare technology

The Kh-69 missile (Kh-59MK2), weighing approximately 1,764 pounds with a warhead mass of 661 pounds, boasts a substantial operational range of around 249 miles. Its stealth features enhance its ability to evade detection, presenting challenges in intercepting these missiles en route to their targets.

See also: Is it NATO or Russian equipment?

An additional strategic advantage of the missile is its capacity to navigate at extremely low altitudes—about 66-98 feet—rendering it virtually invisible to radar over long distances. Its operational characteristics are often likened to the British Storm Shadow missiles.

Russian Su-57 planes
Russian Su-57 planes©
Featuring a rectangular cross-section, the Kh-69 comes equipped with a pair of foldable wings and four tail fins arranged in an X shape. It relies on satellite navigation for flight, activating an electro-optical sensor to home in on the target just before impact.

The toll on Russian aviation

Russia's integration of this new missile with the Su-57 may be an attempt to counteract the severe losses experienced by its aviation in the spring of 2024. Russian forces reportedly lost several Su-34 aircraft within a brief timeframe—a claim by Ukrainian sources that mentions up to ten downed Sukhoi models, though this figure may be somewhat inflated.
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