Ukraine loses two Su-25 to ground fire

IHSS: Two Ukrainian Air Force (Povitryani Sily: PS) Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’ ground attack aircraft were shot down by separatist forces in the east of the country on 23 July, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed.

The two single-seat Su-25s were brought down near the village of Dmytrivka, near the border with Russia. The fate of the pilots is unclear, although media sources are reporting that they ejected.

News of the downing of the Ukrainian Sukhois comes less than a week after Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crashed in the same region. Initial reports strongly indicate that the Boeing 777 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatists.

While the exact circumstances surrounding the loss of the two Su-25s have yet to be determined, the Frogfoot’s low and (relatively) slow mission profile does render it susceptible to ground fire in all its forms, be it small arms, anti-aircraft artillery (AAA), or shoulder-launched man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS).

On the same day as MH17 was destroyed, Kiev accused Moscow of shooting down one of its Su-25s near the city of Luhansk in what would be the first air-to-air engagement of the crisis if confirmed, and a second Su-25 flying in support of the first was also reportedly brought down by a MANPADS. Both pilots are said to have ejected and been recovered by Ukrainian government forces.

The PS is understood to have 35 single-seat and six twin-seat Su-25s in its inventory, some of which were brought out of mothballs and returned to service at the onset of hostilities with Russian-backed rebels earlier in the year. According to IHS Jane’s World Air Forces , these are operated by the 299th Tactical Aviation Brigade, based at Kulbakino in the south of the country.