Losses and Aviation Safety

Ukrainian drone strike 589 km from the front damages Russian Su-57 Felon fifth-gen fighter

Ukrainian drone strike 589 km damages Russian Su-57 fifth-gen fighter

A Sukhoi Su-57 (NATO reporting name: Felon) belonging to the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) has been damaged as a result of a Ukrainian drone attack on Akhtiubinsk Air Base on Jun. 8, 2024.

Noteworthy, this is the first time that Ukrainian forces hit a fifth-gen Su-57 fighter jet at an air base inside Russia, Kyiv’s GUR defense intelligence agency said Sunday, showing the satellite pictures featured in this post which it said confirmed the strike.

Satellite images show that the jet was intact on Jun. 7, but suffered explosive damage after an attack on Jun. 8. On that day according to The Kyiv Independent, Russia reported a drone attack on several regions, including Astrakhan.

In a Telegram post, the GUR did not specify how the Su-57 was hit or by which unit of the Ukrainian military but it said that “The defeat of the Su-57 is the first such case in history.”

Struck by shrapnel

The GUR added that the Felon was parked at the Akhtubinsk airfield, which it said was 589 kilometers from front lines in Ukraine between Ukrainian and Russian invasion forces.

“The pictures show that on June 7, the Su-57 was standing intact, and on (June 8th), there were craters from the explosion and characteristic spots of fire caused by fire damage near it,” the GUR said, with the images posted alongside the message.

According to VOANews that quotes Reuters, Russian pro-military blogger Fighterbomber said the jet fighter was struck by shrapnel and the damage was currently being assessed to see if the aircraft could be repaired.

He said if the plane were to be deemed beyond repair it would be the first combat loss of a Su-57.

Moreover, Alexander Kharchenko, Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti’s military correspondent, posted a cryptic message which did not directly acknowledge the strike but decried the lack of hangars to protect military aircraft.

The Felon

The Sukhoi Su-57 is a twin-engine stealth multirole fighter aircraft developed by Sukhoi. It is the product of the PAK FA (”prospective aeronautical complex of front-line air forces”) programme, which was initiated in 1999 as a more modern and affordable alternative to the Mikoyan Project 1.44/1.42. Sukhoi’s internal designation for the aircraft is T-50. The Su-57 is the first aircraft in Russian military service designed with stealth technology and is intended to be the basis for a family of stealth combat aircraft.

Despite being touted as a Russian fifth-generation fighter aircraft to rival its US equivalent, the Felon was plagued by development delays and a crash in 2019. According to its manufacturer, serial production of the aircraft began in 2022.

multirole fighter capable of aerial combat as well as ground and maritime strike, according to Sukhoi the Su-57 incorporates stealth, supermaneuverability, supercruise, integrated avionics, and substantial internal payload capacity. The aircraft is expected to succeed the MiG-29 and Su-27 in the Russian military service and has also been marketed for export. 

The Su-57 fighter jet before and after the attack. Jun. 9, 2024.

Photo credit: Ukraine’s Military Intelligence, HUR

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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