The Russian Ministry of Defense has yet to confirm the appearance of two of their Su-57 jets at Hmeymim Airbase, Syria. However, this is something that gets everyone talking, from armchair analysts to defense observers. The nature of the jets’ deployment mainly forms the topic: What are they doing there? Is the deployment of the jets related to testing only? Are they there as a form of a political message? Neither Kremlin nor the MoD said anything regarding the appearance of these two jets.
Answers might be expected from Russian military experts instead. Some said that the presence of the two Su-57 jets is strictly advertisement-related. The planes are set at the airbase as a way to advertise them and appeal to the Indian market especially. This is in line with the recently announced Russian/Indian joint program of Sukhoi/HAL 5th Gen Fighter Aircraft. The planes are generally more maneuverable compared to F-22. The former is armed with 3D thrust vector jets while the latter is with 2D thrust vector jets. The former planes can perform at a higher speed, up to Mach 2. Their Belka radar is capable of tracking stealth aircraft and attacking more than 10 targets all at the same time.
The Su-57 jets are also equipped with onboard weapons. There are two compartments for weapons, effectively making use of the aircraft’s length. Each compartment is compatible with up to 4 K-77M air-to-air missiles. These missiles have a range of almost 200 km and are practically equal to the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range air-to-air missiles that the US has. The presence of the two jets in the Syrian airbase is hardly enough to give Russia military advantage. However, they should be enough to send a message to the enemies that they should think twice before taking any actions.
Western military observers took this as a cynical move on Russia’s part. The act of placing two Su-57 jets in Syrian airbase is perceived as an attempt at giving Russian arms sales a boost while at the same time gaining insights into the US air power that is currently operating within the area. The planes’ deployment could lead to a test in an actual war, which in turn could result in the plane being produced massively. Russia will likely gain performance data and other valuable operational experiences through the jet’s advanced avionics, which includes ELINT systems and electronic array radar.