Ukraine’s defense intelligence (HUR) said it struck a Russian Su-57 multirole stealth fighter during an overnight drone strike on Friday evening at the Akhtubinsk airfield, which is confirmed by satellite imagery.

“The pictures show that on June 7, the Su-57 was standing intact, and on June 8, there were ruptures from the explosion and characteristic spots of fire caused by fire damage near it,” read HUR’s announcement.

The Akhtubinsk airfield is located in Russia’s Astrakhan region, at least 460 km from the Ukrainian border.

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In the photo captions, HUR also highlighted the damage sustained in the drone strike – the top one pointed out the target was a Su-57 stealth fighter, the middle one highlighted the fragments from explosions, and the bottom one said “burn marks due to fire damage.”

The Sukhoi Su-57 twin-engine multirole fighter (NATO code name Felon) is Russia’s first and only operational stealth fighter. It experienced a ten-year development hell before officially entering service with the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) in 2020.

Only 11 Su-57s were known to exist as of November 2023, though Russia’s state media said Russia’s VKS planned to receive 76 Su-57s by 2027 – an ambitious target considering its inability to access avionics used to build the aircraft due to Western sanctions.

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There were rumors that Moscow had used Su-57s to conduct strikes on Ukraine, with a British intelligence report in January stating that Russia has “almost certainly used Su-57 FELON to conduct missions against Ukraine,” though there has not been visual confirmation of Su-57s over Ukraine.

It has long been speculated that Russia avoided flying Su-57s over Ukrainian air space in fear of them being shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.

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A recent Kyiv Post analysis also highlighted some of the shortcomings of the Su-57 compared to its Western counterparts. 

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