Amid claims and counterclaims stemming from the Russian-Ukrainian war, many spectacular videos have surfaced on social media. A video appears to show Ukrainian air defense fighters chasing and shooting down Russian cruise missiles.
The air defense aircraft fleet of the Ukrainian Air Force includes the MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters. MiGs are used for air-to-ground and air defense, and Su-27s are mainly used for air-to-air missions.
Of these, the Su-27 is a more powerful air defense asset. However, the early loss of aircraft units reduced the size of the fleet, which was still smaller than the MiG-29 fleet.
A typical air defense mission for Ukrainian MiG-29 or Su-27 pilots is to patrol an area for an airborne threat and engage it to neutralize once a threat is detected.
The Ukrainian army mainly relies on its air defense missile systems to shoot down missiles and drones, and Su-27s or MiG-29s are usually used against Russian fighter jets.
However, Ukraine’s surface-to-air missile (SAM) inventory appears to be shrinking, which is why air defense aircraft also play a significant role in countering missile threats and, more recently, even unmanned aerial threats.
Ukrainian fighter jets filmed as they engage aerial threats
Fighter jets from various air forces around the world have been shooting down enemy cruise missiles for years, but these are rare instances of footage where some show a missile launching and exploding in the same frame.
One of the videos shared by a pro-Ukrainian Twitter account, “@UkraineRussia2”, shows a fighter jet firing a missile that spins left and explodes.
— Ukraine-Russia War (@UkraineRussia2) November 19, 2022
The video was first shared by the Ukraine Now Telegram channel on October 22 and is believed to have been filmed in Chernivtsi Oblast in southwestern Ukraine. The quality of this video is insufficient to determine if a target was hit.
However, the head of the administration of Chernivtsi Oblast, Ruslan Zaparaniuk, reported on the same day that this video was shared that a Ukrainian plane shot down a missile over the Dnistrovskyi district and that the remains of the missile had fallen into a lake.
Another similar video was shared by the Odesa Info Telegram channel on October 22, showing an aircraft that appears to be a Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 fighter jet launching an air-to-air missile (AAM).
Наші пташки працюють
Збив крилату ракету! pic.twitter.com/S5aZk5ZoEM
— ✙ Дніпровець) Станіслав ✙ 🇺🇦 (@TrueDonbass) October 22, 2022
The AAM is then seen performing a series of sudden maneuvers and exploding after allegedly hitting a cruise missile or drone.
“Wow, [it got] shot!” a woman is heard saying in the background.
However, even the quality of this video is not good enough to determine what type of target or if a target was intercepted.
“The video does not show what is being hit. It may well be that the missile was destroyed because of the proximity to the ground,” Squadron Leader Vijainder Thakur, a retired IAF Jaguar pilot, said when asked to comment on the veracity. of the story surrounding the video.
The Twitter account, @UkraineRussia2, posted another video on November 19 showing a Ukrainian Su-27 closely following a cruise missile.
— Ukraine-Russia War (@UkraineRussia2) November 19, 2022
The Ukraine Now Telegram channel originally shared this video on October 23, and the description accompanying the video claims it was filmed in Podilsk, a city north of Odessa.
Based on the timeline of these videos, they appear to be related to the Russian-led cruise missile strike on Oct. 22, according to the Ukrainian General Staff statement, which reported that the strike involved 17 Kh missiles. -101 launched by Tupolev. Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers, as well as 16 Kalibr 3M-54 missiles launched from ships stationed in the Black Sea.
Ukrainian fighter pilots received special training to shoot down Russian cruise missiles
The official news agency of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (MoD) published a report on June 20 providing an overview of the tactics employed by Ukrainian fighter pilots to engage Russian cruise missiles – in particular the Kalibr missile – in the airs.
According to this report, Ukrainian fighter pilots were rounded up during the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine for special training to shoot down cruise missiles.
As part of the training, the pilots were instructed and shown on simulators what to consider when intercepting a cruise missile. The training reportedly paid off within days when Ukrainian fighters began successfully intercepting Russian cruise missiles.
Cruise missiles typically have a small reflective surface and travel at very low altitude, making them difficult to detect from the ground using only aircraft radar.
However, Russian missiles like Kalibr, Kh-101, Kh-59 and Kh-555 are powered by conventional twin-circuit jet engines, which leave a thermal trace in the air. Thus, Ukrainian fighter pilots rely on the electro-optical targeting system to detect the thermal trace of the missile.
Ukrainian fighter pilots have also started using the same tactics against combat drones used by the Russian military.
Just like cruise missiles, drones, especially kamikaze drones like the Iranian-made Shahed-136 or the Lancet drones used by Russia, also have a small reflective surface and usually fly at low altitudes, which makes them difficult to fly. to be detected even by air on the ground. defense radars.
On October 5, Ukrainian MiG-29s from the Ukrainian Air Force’s 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade shot down three Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), marking the first use of Ukrainian combat aircraft against UAVs since the start of the Russian invasion. .
President Zelensky praised the fighter pilots of the 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade for their precision when engaging with enemy drones.
However, the use of fighter jets against suicide bombers is very risky and expensive, as seen in mid-October when a Ukrainian MiG-29 was reportedly shot down by a Shahed-136 drone, marking the first example of a kamikaze drone shooting down a combat aircraft.
A video of this incident has appeared on social media, showing a fighter jet using its cannon to shoot down a target. The target itself is not visible, nor is the plane seen crashing.
Interesting! A Ukrainian MiG-29 shoots down a Geran-2, the proximity suggests, using its cannon. The drone explodes when hit and falls to the ground. Apparently the MiG-29 itself fell, probably due to shrapnel from the Geran-2 explosion! https://t.co/2DlLwt7l1k
— Vijainder K Thakur (@vkthakur) October 12, 2022
However, the Ukrainian Air Force confirmed in a Facebook post that a fighter jet from one of the tactical aviation brigades crashed near Vinnytsia while on a combat mission to destroy enemy kamikaze drones, “Shahed-136”.
The Air Force said the fighter jet crashed due to an unspecified technical malfunction that caused the pilot to lose control of the plane.
Experts have suggested that even if the fighter jet managed to fire on the kamikaze drone, the latter’s explosion must have hit the plane itself.