Russia is reluctant to use its most advanced Su-57 FELON combat jets in Ukrainian territory, the UK’s Defense Intelligence wrote on Twitter on Jan. 9.
The department in its daily summary noted that since at least June 2022, Russian Air Forces have almost certainly used Su-57 FELON to conduct missions against Ukraine – yet these missions have likely been limited to flying over Russian territory and launching long range air-to-surface or air-to-air missiles into Ukraine.
“Russia is highly likely prioritizing avoiding the reputational damage, reduced export prospects, and the compromise of sensitive technology which would come from any loss of FELON over Ukraine,” the report says.
“This is symptomatic of Russia’s continued risk-averse approach to employing its air force in the war.”
According to UK intelligence, recent commercially available imagery shows five FELON parked at Akhtubinsk Air Base, which hosts the 929th Flight Test Centre.
“As this is the only known FELON base, these aircraft have likely been involved in operations against Ukraine,” the reports noted.
Russia has significantly reduced the use of combat aircraft along the front line after the Armed Forces of Ukraine began shooting down enemy planes and helicopters.
Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military has already destroyed 285 planes and 275 helicopters, with three of them being shot down in the past day.