Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighter, a fifth-generation aircraft, is poised to gain extended strike capabilities with the integration of a new air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) into its concealed internal compartment.
According to a source quoted by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, this cutting-edge internally stowed KRBB (long-range cruise missile) has been specifically designed for the Su-57. Despite its reduced size, the missile boasts a range comparable to munitions employed in long-range aviation, similar to those found on the Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic bombers.
The smaller size of this new ammunition is attributed to the meticulously crafted folding wing design, internal configuration, and the use of a newly developed twin-turbojet engine. Long-range air-launched cruise missiles have a reach of up to 600 kilometers, within the broader range of 1,000 to 6,500 kilometers utilized by the Russian Aerospace Force for long-range operations.
This development follows the recent equipping of the Su-34M Fullback with long-range cruise missiles as the Russian Aerospace Forces have expanded their capabilities. The Su-34M, also known as the Su-34NVO in Russia, employed these missiles in a “zone of special military operations” within Ukrainian territory, increasing their versatility in complex missions.
While the specific nomenclature of the missiles remains undisclosed, Russian authorities have refrained from publicly naming them, reflecting a trend in recent practices. Additionally, reports suggest that the Su-57 could soon be equipped with missiles capable of striking targets at a range of 300 kilometers, further enhancing its combat capabilities.
The Su-57 features ten internal and six external hardpoints that can carry various types of missiles, including air-to-air, air-to-surface, anti-ship, and anti-radiation missiles. Integrating these long-range cruise missiles into the aircraft is of paramount importance, as it allows the Su-57 to undertake remote ground attack missions while maintaining the ability to evade detection by E-planes like the E-3 Sentry Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft operated by the US and NATO.
The Su-57, also known as the Felon in NATO terminology, represents a significant advancement in Russian military aviation. It is a fifth-generation multirole fighter designed for air-to-ground combat and air superiority. The aircraft incorporates advanced technology, radar-absorbing coating, concealed internal weapons bays, and supersonic cruising capabilities.
This evolution of the Su-57 platform is ongoing, with continuous enhancements in its combat capabilities and the incorporation of the latest technologies. The integration of second-stage engines and the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) in communications, pilot interfaces, and advanced cockpit systems further highlight the aircraft’s modernization efforts.
Notably, the Su-57 has been deployed in Ukraine for patrols and was employed in a Suppression of Enemy Air Defense/Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD/DEAD) operation carried out safely from Russian territory in June 2022. The production of Su-57 aircraft is set to increase gradually, even in the face of international sanctions, with new batches recently delivered to the Russian Aerospace Forces.