Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed on Thursday that two Russian fifth generation Su-57 fighter jets were carrying out two-day combat testing missions in Syria.
The statement was made after the Russian Kommersant newspaper reported, citing its military sources, that the Russian fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jets had been deployed to Syria to test radar systems and electronic warfare.
However, the minister called the satellite images of the Su-57 in Syria, previously circulating in the media, fake as the jets were kept in hangars and never stood side by side.
"Concerning the various satellite photos, I can say that it's not 95  anymore - such planes never stand alongside each other," Shoigu told reporters.
"The photos that were published - I do not know where they came from, because all the planes were in shelters all this time. I hope that this year we will complete a full cycle of tests and this will be another surprise for our colleagues," he stated.
The Russian top military official specified that the jets had returned to Russia a week ago.
Formerly recognized as the Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK-FA), or Sukhoi T-50, the Su-57 is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and an active airborne phased array radar which allows the plane to effectively destroy air, ground and naval targets.
On US Missile Defense System
Speaking about the elements of the US missile defense system, created in Poland, Romania, Alaska and ones planned for deployment in South Korea and Japan, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called them a "leaky umbrella."
"What is being created today in Poland and Romania, created in Alaska and is supposed to be created in South Korea and Japan, this 'umbrella' of missile defense turns out to be 'leaky'," Shoigu said.
In his annual state-of-the-nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed the start of the active phase of Russian SARMAT missile system tests, stating that the new weapons would be invulnerable to interception as its capabilities allow it to bypass any missile defense.
"I do not know why they [NATO] should now purchase this 'umbrella' for such money," Shoigu told reporters, comparing the country's missile defense capabilities reflected in Putin's speech and those of the US.
The minister went on to discuss Russia's advanced weapons.
"The most up-to-date and advanced weapons have been created over many years, and in certain areas, over decades. It is weaponry capable of penetrating existing and prospective missile defenses," Shoigu said commenting on the announcement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to Putin, Russia was creating new defense systems in response to the United States' deployment of anti-missile defense systems both in the US and abroad.
The president stressed that all of Moscow's proposals on joint work have been rejected by the US, including Russia's calls not to violate the anti-missile defense treaty.
"This will ensure guaranteed security and protect the sovereignty of our country for many decades to come. But, most importantly, it will help us to prevent our country from being drawn into the next arms race that the NATO countries are persistently imposing on us," Shoigu stressed.
A similar stance has been voiced by the Russian president, who clarified that all the work to intensify Russia's defense capability had been conducted within the framework of international agreements.
Addressing the country's parliament, Putin underlined that Russia was not threatening anyone and had no intention of attacking anyone despite the creation of a new array of arms, including high-precision strategic weapons, which purely serve the country's defensive needs.