Russia appears to have sent two of its most modern stealth fighter jets to Syria.
Footage circulating out of Syria today appears to show two of the distinctive aircraft arriving at Russia’s Khmeimim air force base on the shores of the Mediterranean.
As they came in to land, a Su-35 fighter is seen to swoop past protectively.
The unverified footage has interesting implications, if true.
Moscow has been swept up in scandal as its citizens seek explanations for an alleged 200 Russian casualties in a clash with United States aircraft and artillery earlier this month.
It denies it ever happened.
But, on Monday, Russia’s foreign minister abruptly warned President Donald Trump not to “play with fire” by imposing its will on Syria.
Even in itself, such a move involving the stealth fighter is odd.
The secretive Su-57, also known as the T-50 PAK-FA, is still in its prototype phase.
It first flew in 2010. Less than a dozen functioning prototypes exist.
It’s being touted by Moscow as its “F-22 killer” — a stealth fighter of sufficient fighting power to take on the best in the US air force fleet, and win.
But its development has not been without problems.
According to Syrian media and observers near Russia’s Khmeimim air force base, the two Su-57s were escorted by four Su-35 fighters and four Su-25 strike aircraft, as well as an A-50U radar command-and-control platform.
If correct, the stealth fighters will be joining a selection of Russia’s most advanced strike aircraft already based there.
The arrival of a flight of Su-34 “Fullback” strike aircraft in Syria in September 2015 caused quite a stir. The modern twin-seat bomber is highly capable, carrying a significant selection of electronics and weaponry.
And the Su-35 “Flanker” is an extremely manoeuvrable fighter that represents the pinnacle of non-stealth combat technology.
Moscow has been eager to tout the performance of both aircraft in Syria to potential markets around the world.
Is the arrival of the Su-57 part of a similar marketing strategy for a nation struggling under the weight of international sanctions?
Or is it a response to recent encounters between the US and Russia in the skies and on the ground of war-torn Syria?
Interestingly, the apparent move comes just days after Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters during a visit to the Komsomolski-on-Amur manufacturing plant — which assembles the stealth fighter — that the Su-57 would “start combat trials soon”.
read more at news.com.au
#BREAKING – First footage of #Russia top stealth Su-57 fighter jet over #Syrian #Khmemeim air base. Total of 2 Su-57 stealth fighters were deployed with 4x Su-35, 4x Su-25 and 1 early warning plane A-50U. pic.twitter.com/IV4Yw6b9Gl
— SURA (@AlSuraEnglish) February 22, 2018