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Ukraine strikes Russia’s most advanced stealth fighter jet for first time

In Europe
June 09, 2024

Ukraine has hit Russia’s most advanced stealth fighter jet for the first time in a drone strike 365 miles behind the frontline.

Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence said that the drone hit the airfield in Russia’s Astrakhan region by the Caspian Sea on Saturday, destroying the Su-57 fighter bomber.

“The defeat of the Su-57 is the first such case in history,” it said.

Photographs showed debris scattered around the Akhtubinsk airfield and the faint outline of what appears to be the Su-57 fighter bomber. Russia is thought to have only a handful of the Su-57 fighter bombers in service. The bomber was designed as a replacement for the ageing MiG-29 and the Su-27 and only came into service in the Russian Air Force in December 2020.

Each Su-57 fighter bomber costs an estimated 2.2 billion roubles (£19.5 million) to manufacture. They fire the Kh-59 and Kh-69 hypersonic missiles, known as Daggers.

Confirmation by Russian bloggers

The Russian ministry of defence has not commented, but the country’s military bloggers confirmed the strike.

“Yes, yesterday the airfield in Akhtubinsk was attacked by drones. Three of them arrived,” the Fighterbomber Telegram channel told its 460,000 subscribers. “A Su-57 was damaged by shrapnel. It is now being determined whether it can be restored or not.”

The hit on the fighter bomber will anger Vladimir Putin who has been incensed by the failure of his navy and air force to protect their expensive warships and fighter jets from Ukrainian drone and missile attacks.

The attack adds to the criticism of the Russian ministry of defence a month ago after Putin purged its ranks of top officials he thought were corrupt and incompetent. Rybar, which has 1.2 million subscribers on its Telegram channel, accused Russian officials of not doing enough to protect Russian warplanes at vulnerable airfields.

“For the cost of repairing one Su-57 it was possible to fully equip several operational-tactical aircraft with light shelters near the frontline,” it said. “But despite two years of hostilities and frequent attacks against aircraft by drones, those in charge did not bother to do this.”

Ukrainian drone attacks across Russia have become increasingly brazen over the past year. It had focused on striking oil refineries and military targets with domestically produced drones but last month it also hit radars used by the Russian military to warn of a nuclear attack.

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