Air war over Ukraine
Migs fly East!
Text: Miro Barič
Mig-29UBS bort number 5304 was also handed over to Ukraine. The picture was taken at SIAF 2019.
The war in Ukraine carried over to the next year. From
March 1 to March 31, period we cover in this episode, the
most important event of the air war were reinforcements in
the form of Mig-29 fighter from Poland and Slovak Republic
and an incident during which the American MQ-9 Reaper
drone and Russian Su-27 fighter collided in the international
airspace over the Black Sea. Let look closer at both events.
It is admirable how long the Ukrainian defenders
resist the Russian “three-day” special operation.
Even the next large-scale counterattack is being
prepared of course preceded by a large amount
of the disinformation to confuse the enemy. It is
certain that the Russian attempt at the winter
offensive vanished. In Bakhmut the Russians
make slow progress but it has been eight
months since the operation to capture it started
and 58th largest city in Ukraine still resists.
The Russian advance at Vuhledar gradually
stopped and the occupier’s efforts on SvatovoKremnina line are not bearing fruits. There were
hard time for Avdiyivka though. The Russians
took advantage of the fact that the city sticks
out of the frontline, and they control both
right and left wings. The Ukrainian AA defense
has to operate further from the front and the
Russians could achieve the local air superiority.
The coordinated deployment of the electronic
warfare, artillery and ground-air missiles to
suppress the Ukrainian AA defense creates
a small window through which the Russian
bombers can attack unmolested. Russain Mig-31
and Su-35 armed with air-to-air missiles
engage the Ukrainian fighters equipped with
similar rockets but of shorter range. Price paid
is the increased number of the Russian ground
radars and jammers destroyed. Those are not
only hit by HARM rockets launched from the
Ukrainian aircraft but due to the vicinity of the
frontline by the Ukrainian artillery as well.
American drone vs. Russian fighter
On Tuesday, March 14, the most serious incident
occured between the Russian and Western armed
forces since the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Two
Su-27 fighters attacked the American MQ-9
Reaper drone in the international airspace
above the Black Sea and caused the drone’s
crash. It was maneuvering approximately
60 km south-west from the occupied Crimea.
The whole incident lasted 30–40 minutes.
According to the American statements the
Photo: Ukrainian Armed Forces, social
media and other public sources
pair of Su-27 fighters approached the drone
as many as 19 times. During the last three or
four passes they splashed it with fuel in an
effort to blind or damage the drone. In the end
one of the fighters crashed into it from behind
and destroyed its propeller. The drone could
not sustain the flight and an operator guided
it into the water. Washington called upon the
Russian ambassador who, in the line with the
Russian propaganda, claimed that it was an
American provocation. Moscow maintained that
Russia is not responsible, there was no physical
contact made and MQ-9 Reaper crashed due to
the abrupt maneuvers. It’s interesting that the
ambassador stressed out several times that the
Russian fighters had not deployed any of the onboard weapons, regardless no one made such
Two days after an incident Pentagon published
a video captured by drone’s camera which
again proved the Russian lies. The only aircraft
maneuvering abruptly were the Russian fighters.