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Russia's top Su-57 stealth fighter jet hit for first time, Ukraine's military intelligence says

Cameron Manley   

Russia's top Su-57 stealth fighter jet hit for first time, Ukraine's military intelligence says
  • Ukraine claims to have struck an advanced Russian Su-57 stealth fighter jet.
  • Ukraine says the aircraft was targeted at an airfield 360 miles from the front line.

Ukraine hit a prized Russian Su-57 fighter jet stationed deep inside Russian territory for the first time, Ukraine's main intelligence directorate (GUR) reported Sunday morning.

Ukraine says the aircraft was damaged following a strike on the Akhtubinsk airfield in the Astrakhan region in southern Russia, 360 miles from the front line.

Satellite imagery provided by Ukraine's military intelligence appears to show the aircraft standing intact on June 7 and damaged on June 8.

Ukraine's military intelligence said the Su-57 is Moscow's "most modern fighter, which can attack with Kh-59 and Kh-69 missiles."

A pro-Kremlin Telegram channel, Fighterbomber, often used as a source to confirm Russian military losses in lieu of official confirmation from Moscow, reported that there was shrapnel damage to a Su-57. "Whether [the bomber] can be restored or not is currently being determined," the channel wrote.

Unlike Russia's Su-25 and Su-35 aircraft, Moscow's fifth-generation Su-57 fighters have not been widely used since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

"The defeat of the Su-57 is the first such case in history," Ukraine's military intelligence said.

David Axe, a military correspondent, and blogger, wrote in an article for Forbes that if confirmed, the loss of the Su-57 "would represent only the second stealth warplane any country has lost in combat in the four decades since the US Air Force deployed the very first stealth plane—the Lockheed Martin F-117."

In 1999, a Serbian air defense battery shot down an F-117 as it was flying a NATO mission in the Kosovo war, Axe wrote.

Russia is stepping up its attacks deep inside Russian territory

In recent weeks, Ukraine appears to be increasing the range of its strikes into Russia's hinterland.

On Saturday, just a day before news of the Su-57 was made public, a video surfaced across open source intelligence channels appearing to show a Ukrainian long-range attack drone diving toward Mozdok air base in Russia's southern region of North Ossetia, 450 miles from the front line in eastern Ukraine.

It is not known if the drone caused any military damage, but in April, satellite imagery revealed that the base was home to 6 Tu-22M bombers, 4 Su-24M/MR strike aircraft, and 20 military helicopters.

Mick Ryan, a retired Australian army general, wrote on Substack earlier this year that such attacks deep inside Russian territory will "force a Russian reassessment of their air defense resources as well as having to redeploy these assets further from where they are most needed."

Axe said on Sunday: "Russia's air defenses are spread so thin by Ukraine's escalating drone campaign that they can't protect all of the Kremlin's most valuable assets."

The last major attack on Russian warplanes came on May 17 when Ukraine hit the Balbek Airfield in occupied Crimea. The attack damaged three planes stationed there: one Su-27 and two MiG-31s.

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