Russia announces delivery of four new Su-57s, total number remains unclear

New Sukhoi Su-57s in December 2022

Four new Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jets, built in 2022, have been transferred to Russian Aerospace Forces, according to the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).  

The aircraft have been manufactured at Y.A.Gagarin factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, as part of the latest order signed by UAC and Russian Ministry of Defense, the company added.  

UAC has posted several images and video footage showing two of the aircraft with their serial numbers covered.  

The newly delivered aircraft are likely to be the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh Su-57 to be delivered to the Russian military.  

Production difficulties  

In a press release published on December 28, 2022, UAC explained that the factory was able to manufacture the aircraft owing to newly increased production capacity.  

“Our factory at Komsomolsk-on-Amur fulfilled the year’s goal of production of fifth-generation Su-57 aviation systems and Su-35S fighter jets for Russian Air Defense Forces. We are going to continue fulfilling our obligations. The aircraft, planned for delivery in the next year, are already in production,” Yury Sliusar, the general Director of UAC, is quoted as saying in the release.  

The deliveries could mean that UAC has finally managed to streamline production of the aircraft, which has been hindered by problems for almost two decades.   

The Su-57, the first Russian fifth-generation fighter jet and the country’s first stealth aircraft, was announced in 2004 and conducted its maiden flight in 2010. UAC planned to manufacture large numbers of the aircraft, with more than 150 of the jets intended to enter service by 2025.  

Following numerous delays, the first Su-57 was transferred to Russian Aerospace Forces only in December 2021 and, by the end of 2022, between three and five aircraft of the type reached operational status, according to different reports.  

Unclear numbers

It is difficult to discern how many Su-57s are operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces. In images and video footage published by UAC in December 2022, the aircrafts’ serial and fuselage numbers were blurred, making it impossible to distinguish if the jets have been shown before. Additionally, only two aircraft are visible.  

Between late 2021 and early 2022, it was announced that three Su-57s had been delivered. In May 2022 two more new Su-57s have been spotted, at least one of which is a repainted pre-production prototype.   

According to a prominent Russian military blogger BMPD, with the latest deliveries Aerospace Forces have a total of 10 Su-57s, as two aircraft spotted in May 2022 have already been transferred to the military. Another Su-57 was transferred in early 2022, BMPD argues, and the four aircraft, mentioned in the UAC release, were all newly manufactured in late 2022.  

However, Sliusar’s quote, which mentions that the production goals of 2022 have been met, provides some evidence to the contrary.  

In June 2021, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said that UAC planned to manufacture four Su-57s in 2022. This likely means that the four aircraft, transferred in December, constitute all Su-57s produced by UAC during the year. Therefore, the total number of Su-57s in the inventory of Russian Aerospace Forces is likely to be seven: three delivered in 2021-early 2022 with an additional four in December 2022. 

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