Earlier this week, news broke that one of Russia’s advanced, fifth generation fighters, the Su-57, had crashed in the nation’s far East region. Soon after, evidence began to emerge that the crash may have involved the nation’s first ever serially produced Su-57.
This isn’t the first embarrassment for the long-troubled Su-57 program, but it could potentially be among the last. After years of development struggles, there may not be enough spit and polish left in the Kremlin to make this flying turd shine.
The Su-57 began its life as a joint venture between Russia and India, with India backing out of the program when it became apparent that the expensive platform couldn’t deliver on its promises of stealth performance. Since then, the 12 prototype fighters Russia built have served as the nation’s “fifth generation” fleet, though only one came equipped with the engine Russia intended all Su-57s to run.
These jets have garnered headlines over the years thanks to carefully chosen public displays and even a photo-op deployment to Syria, where the jets landed, took off and did little of anything else.