The Facebook group “Syrian Military Capabilities” on Thursday posted a video claiming to show the brand new Russian stealth aircraft Sukhoi 57 operating in Syria.
The Sukhoi Su-57 the first aircraft in Russian military service to use stealth technology. The fighter is planned to have supercruise, stealth, supermaneuverability and advanced avionics to overcome the prior generation fighter aircraft as well as ground and maritime defenses. The prototype first flew on 29 January 2010.
Russia is renowned for using the Syrian civil war as an opportunity to test its latest military technology, which has resulted in a rise in arms sales. Over the eight years that passed since it first took to the air, the Su-57 has been rumored to be plagued by cost and time delays, and so letting it show what it can do in real-time might just be a marketing decision.
“There is some operational merit in doing this, but there’s also a publicity element,” Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, told the Guardian Thursday, suggesting that a successful demonstration of the plane’s capabilities would alleviate the concerns of potential buyers.
A week ago, TASS reported that The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is planning to deliver the first batch of the fifth generation jets for the country’s Aerospace Force in 2019.
The Kremlin and the Russian defense ministry refused to comment on whether the most advanced Russian-made warplane is being used in combat missions in Syria, but Russian news agencies have quoted sources in the defense ministry which confirmed the presence of the Sukhoi 57 in Syria.
Another explanation to the Russians’ decision to transfer the advanced plane to the Middle East might be their concern, even panic, over the US Air Force bombing of a Russian convoy two weeks ago, which killed hundreds of mercenaries acting on behalf of the Russian defense ministry.