Ukrainian Pilot Horrified by R-37M Missile on Russian Su-57 Stealth Fighter Jet

Ukrainian Pilot Horrified by R-37M Missile on Russian Su-57 Stealth Fighter Jet
Ukrainian Pilot Horrified by R-37M Missile on Russian Su-57 Stealth Fighter Jet

Kiev - A Ukrainian fighter pilot admitted he was horrified by the R-37M long-range air-to-air missile that became the weapon of the Russian Su-57 stealth fighter jet. According to him, if someone finds out about the launch of the missile while fighting in the air, then he will die.

On January 9, the UK Ministry of Defense said in an assessment that Russia was almost certain to deploy its most valuable fighter, the Su-57 Felon, in operations against Ukraine in a way that minimized risk to the aircraft. According to the UK Ministry of Defence, the Su-57 may be restricted from flying over Ukrainian territory and firing long-range air-to-surface or air-to-air missiles at Ukraine to avoid being detected and shot down by Ukrainian air defense systems.

While Russian media reports have claimed the use of the Su-57 in the ongoing Ukraine war since May 2022, a recent assessment by the UK Ministry of Defense corroborates reports by the Russian state-run TASS news agency, which said the Su-57 had been operating "outside the destruction zone". activated by enemy air defense systems.”

Among the long-range armament of the Su-57 Felon, the R-37M long-range air-to-air missile was of particular concern to Ukrainian pilots. The pilot, in interviews with US media, described it as a "dangerous weapon". The R-37M is a long-range air-to-air missile (AAM) capable of hitting high-speed aerial targets from a distance of over 300 kilometers.

The R-37M missile is also known as AA-13 in the West or RVV-BD, a designation used for the Russian-developed R-series variant previously produced in Ukraine. The RVV series is said to be more advanced and consists only of Russian components. The missile is a product of the renowned Russian research company Vympel, which is responsible for all of Russia's AAM family. It originates from the Soviet Union's R-37 AAM, built in the 1980s for the MiG-31M Foxhound.

Development of the R-37M missile in the late 2000s. This missile was originally intended to be carried by the MiG-31. It was then decided to upgrade the weapons to make them more compatible with Russia's fourth-generation Su-30, Su-35, and fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jets.

Experts believe the missile has the potential to significantly improve combat flight performance. A dual-pulsed solid-propellant rocket motor drives the missile. It is guided towards its target by an onboard dual-band active radar seeker, while the inertial navigation system receives an update halfway from launch.

According to the manufacturer's claims, during the missile engagement's terminal phase, the seeker inside can lock on to a target with a 54-square-foot radar cross-section at around 40 kilometers or so. Similar to the R-37, the R-37M can reportedly carry a nuclear warhead to destroy larger aircraft or missile formations. The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) began using the R-37M against Ukraine last summer.

Since then, Ukrainian fighter pilots have been concerned, as long-range missiles threaten Ukrainian aircraft even when fired from inside Russian airspace. While the Ukrainian Air Force has developed tactics to minimize the threat posed by the R-37M, these tactics only limit the ability of Ukrainian fighter pilots to carry out their missions.

“Because we understood their tactics during this missile (R-37M) engagement, we created our techniques to help evade them. But still, it limits our ability to carry out our mission. Of course, if you're maneuvering, we can't give airstrikes or anything else, so the game is still very, very difficult in the air and very risky. If you don't know the missile launch, you die,” a Ukrainian MiG-29 pilot with the callsign "Juice" told The Drive.

Combined with the Su-57 which has stealth features, this missile becomes even more deadly. Western experts believe the missile is designed to defeat airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and other high-value assets.

AWACS in Poland and Romania operating in 24/7 mode allegedly failed to detect the Russian fifth-generation aircraft, according to a report by EurAsian Times in October. The failure resulted in the Ukrainian Su-27 fighter being shot down by an R-37M missile fired from the Su-57, marking the first air-to-air kill by a Su-57 Felon.

Nevertheless, reports of the Su-57 operating from secure Russian airspace point to a minimal role for Russia's first stealth aircraft and the only fifth-generation fighter that Moscow touts as an aircraft surpassing the F-22 and F-35.

Experts comment that if the Su-57 is as stealthy as its American rivals, it is expected to fly undetected within Ukrainian airspace to suppress enemy air defenses. Losing even one Su-57 to Ukrainian SAM would give Ukraine a major public relations (PR) advantage and raise doubts about the stealth characteristics of the Felon.

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