How good is the Russian Air Force

Russia's “highly developed” fighter jet in Syria turns out to be a laughing stock

Associated Press

Russia has put two advanced Su-57 fighter jets into service in Syria. This move is primarily seen as a marketing ploy, as Russia has recently had problems attracting international investments for the aircraft. The use could also have other reasons.

The "Times of Israel" reports that Russia also wants to send a "hidden warning" to Israel. Russia stated that the Su-57 should serve as a deterrent, especially "for aircraft from neighboring countries that regularly fly uninvited over Syrian airspace."

The veiled warning came after Syria and Israel engaged in a heated air battle in which an Israeli F-16 was shot down. Israel said it had shot down half of Syria's air defenses in response.

In a column in the New York Times, Ronan Bergman wrote that Israel was planning a grand response to the downing by Syria. There is said to have been an "angry" phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a Syrian ally, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Russia's jet is inferior to western jets

But no matter what the two heads of state discussed on the phone, it is unlikely that the Su-57 was the subject. The Su-57 does not pose a threat to western jets in its current state, although it is the newest and most developed fighter jet in Russia. The jet is currently waiting for new engines and has significant problems dropping bombs when traveling at supersonic speeds.

"I don't think anyone should be too concerned about a kinetic threat from the Su-57 in its current state as it flies over Syria," Justin Bronk, a fighter aircraft expert with the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider.

Bronk pointed out problems with the Su-57. The jet cannot integrate the radar data in such a way that the pilot can use it in the cockpit. The difficulties in dropping bombs are so great that the jet is "far from being ready for combat".

Still, the Su-57's radar system, which is sophisticated and "innovative", could pose a threat to American F-22 jets also operating in Syria. The Russian jets could read the data from the radar signature of the F-22, which could be an advantage in future missions, even if the jet from Russia is currently neither ready for a fight with Israel, nor for a fight with the USA or Turkey.

Marketing for the stumbling Russian military export?

Associated Press

A representative from Russia gave Russian media an additional reason to justify the use of the Su-57 in Syria. He confirmed that it was a marketing ploy, as Western reports suggested, but also said it was some sort of test for the unchecked jet.

The representative said that the jet "absolutely must be tested in combat conditions." It must first prove itself in conditions with enemy resistance.

Another official told the Russian media that "200 new types of weapons were tested when we helped our Syrian brothers." These included sophisticated systems such as cruise missiles that can be launched from submarines and are designed for sophisticated warfare .

Bronk pointed out that "the only official combat operation of the Russian Air Force in Syria is to bomb Syrian rebels and Daesh groups in order to support Assad's ground forces." 57 is important, which was developed to conquer the sovereignty of the air. "

In essence, the Russian Air Force is just bombing the rebel bases on the ground. In all the years of combat operations, air defenses only had to be deployed once. The rebels took a Russian Su-25 from the sky.

Bronk assumed that the Su-57 would fly over 4.6 kilometers so that these missiles could be avoided. That means the new Russian jet cannot really be used on combat missions, only on missions where there is no resistance.

Russia's jet not in combat, not a real threat

So why does Russia need the latest generation of stealth fighter jets that are not equipped for aerial combat with the US F-22 and F-35? Bronk said the Su-57 "was not designed for the bombing missions it is currently being used for in Syria."

Retired U.S. Air Force General David Deptula is now the Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies. He told Business Insider that the missions in Syria provide an opportunity to test the new jets "without Russia having to pay for training programs." He agrees with Bronk that the plane is not yet fully operational for combat.

Read also: Weird assumption about Russia's new secret weapon scares the US

Russia has found a cheap way to raise the profile of the aircraft. The government is desperate to sell the jet by testing it in the Syrian civil war. But no one who knows about jets would really consider him a serious threat in a dogfight.