Tag Archives: Sukhoi Su-27

Analysis of Ukrainian Air Force Losses in eastern Ukraine clashes

It’s hard to say how many aircraft the Ukrainian Air Force has lost.

Some reports, especially those on the pro-separatists side seem to be a bit exaggerated but, as Ainonline website reported, on the basis of Ukrainian and British sources, the Ukrainian Air Force has lost 22 aircraft throughout the crisis.

Ukrainian military aviation had not been in a very good shape before the hybrid-conflict with the separatists started, and any losses may be considered to be severe.

The total loss count includes 9 combat planes, 3 cargo planes and 10 helicopters, most of which have been shot down with MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) and, in case of some of the lost helicopters, with rocket propelled grenades.

In total, the UAF conducted 740 sorties during the operation, which is dubbed by the Kiev government to have an “anti-terrorist” character.

Starting from losses within the group of combat planes, one Su-24 Fencer, six Su-25 Frogfoots and two MiG-29 Fulcrums have been lost, where one of the Fulcrums was reportedly shot down by a Russian MiG-29.

The cargo planes which have been lost include single examples of An-26 Curl, An-30 Clank and Il-76 Candid. The Curl was reportedly hit by a Buk missile system; the same type of anti-aircraft system behind the downing of MH17 flight (according to most analysts). The Il-76 mentioned above was shot down in Luhansk, and it was a Candid in a flight of three such planes landing at Luhansk at the time. The first Candid made a safe landing, while the crew of the last one aborted landing.

The British sources state that lack of proper flight experience and intelligence data was the main reason for the incurred losses. The ECM systems on the Ukrainian jets have been made in Russia, which means that they were easy to overcome. According to the Polish outlet altair.com.pl, the Western countries were asked to supply new electronic countermeasures, however in fear of these being intercepted by the Russians, they were never delivered.

In the light of the analysis of the potential of the Ukrainian Air Force conducted by Dr Sean Wilson, which has been published in the Polish “Lotnictwo” magazine last year, the above losses may be considered to be significant.

According to Wilson, Ukraine, back in 1992, inherited 3,600 aircraft, including 850 helicopters, out of which 285 assault choppers and 2,750 aircraft, out of which 1,650 were combat planes. Back in 2013 the estimated data suggested that out of these numbers only 200 combat aircraft were in active service and about 70 were combat capable.

At that time, the fleet consisted of 15-20 MiG-29 Fulcrums, 10-12 Su-24M/MR Fencers, 14-18 Su-25 Frogfoots and 16 Su-27 Flankers. 16 MiG-29’s, 4 Su-24’s and 15 Su-25 were to be withdrawn by 2015.

Reports claim that 80 Frogfoots remain in active service and at least 14 are combat-capable. Which may be a significant notion, as the number is almost as high as the number of Frogfoots which were to be withdrawn.

Ukraine also had 66 examples of Su-27 Flankers, respectively 40 Su-27S Flanker-B’s (which are capable of conducting air-to-ground sorties), and 26 Su-27P Flanker-B’s (interceptor variant) and Su-27UB Flanker-C’s (two-seater). 36 of these were to remain in active service, while 16 were to be fully operational.

All of the Flankers are being currently used as interceptors. Modernization of these has been planned, and some examples have been updated before the conflict started.

When it comes to cargo planes, Ukrainians inherited 180 Candid-B transport aircraft, however, not many of these remained active. Two examples of An-30 Clanks were said to be still flying within the Open Skies program. About 20 Il-78 air tankers have been also a part of the post-Soviet inheritance; nonetheless the refueling equipment on these has been removed and maximally 8 of them remained active back in 2013 in a cargo role.

When it comes to the qualitative side of the analysis, the Ukrainian AF undertook several modernization programs for both fighters and attack aircraft. The modernizations included new avionics and navigational systems based on both GPS, as well as on its Russian counterpart – GLONASS.

Still, the Ukrainian Air Force suffered considerable losses during such a limited conflict a sign that the weapons in the hands of the separatists have been extremely effective against Kiev’s combat planes and helicopters so far.

Image credit: Wiki

Swedish Spyplane “caught” flying off Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast

A Swedish Air Force Gulfstream IVSP Electronic Intelligence plane could be tracked as it flew in the airspace off Kaliningrad Oblast, where some of the most active Russian bases in the Baltic region are located.

The Swedish Air Force operates a pair of S102B Korpen, modified Gulfstream IVSP aircraft used to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) missions. These aircraft are equipped with sensors capable to eavesdrop, collect and analyse enemy electronic emissions.

Korpet jets conduct routine surveillance missions over the Baltic Sea, flying high and fast in international airspace close to the area of interest.

As we reported last month, the Swedish spyplanes are almost always intercepted by Russian armed fighter jets on Quick Reaction Alert at the Russian airbase in the Kaliningrad exclave; even if this is pretty routine stuff, the Russian Su-27 Flankers have become a bit too aggressive as proved by the incident occurred on Jul. 16, when a Russian Air Force interceptor flew as close as 10,7 meters of the intelligence gathering aircraft.

Anyway, unlike Russian bombers and spyplanes, that frequently operate with their transponders turned off, posing a threat to civilian traffic of northern Europe, the Swedish Gulfstream IV have their transponders turned on and regularly provide updates on their position to the relevant civilian air traffic control agencies along their route.

This means that they can even be monitored during their missions, as happened on Friday Nov. 21, when one the two Korpens could be tracked thanks to the ADS-B using Planefinder.net as it flew some “racetracks” over the Baltic Sea.

Noteworthy, the aircraft operated between Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast, the latter, with its Russian air bases, being most probably one of the targets of the spyplane.

We have frequently highlighted that Russian Air Force spyplanes regularly skirt foreign airspaces during missions aimed at gathering intelligence on NATO and non-NATO countries. The Swedish activity off Kaliningrad Oblast proves that, although on a smaller scale, other air arms do the same on Russia.

Top image: Planefinder.net screenshot

H/T to @FMCNL for the heads-up

 

German Typhoons have intercepted 7 Russian Air Force combat planes over the Baltic Sea today

NATO Baltic Air Policing mission is quite busy these days….

According to the Latvian military, on Oct. 28, the German Air Force Eurofighter jets on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at Amari, Estonia, to provide NATO Baltic Air Policing were scrambled to intercept seven Russian Air Force planes flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

The German interceptors identified the Russian planes as a large package, made of attack planes and escort, which included 2x MiG-31 Foxhound, 2x Su-34 Fullback, 1x Su-27 Flanker and 2x Su-24 Fencer jets.

Regardless to whether the Russian aircraft were involved in one of the frequent training missions in the Baltics or were commuting to/from the Russian airfield in Kaliningrad oblast, the package on Oct 28 represents one of the largest “formations” intercepted by NATO fighter planes during the last couple of years.

Usually, close encounters involve Russian, Swedish or U.S. spyplanes intercepted before (or after) violating sovereign airspaces. Sometimes, scrambles are required to greet Moscow’s Tu-22 or Tu-95 bombers on long-range training patrols or strike packages involved in (alleged) simulated air strikes on one of North Europe’s states (usually, Sweden).

Anyway, Russian Air Force missions in the Baltic area have surged, to such an extent NATO presence has quadrupled in the last year: from one nation providing four aircraft in QRA at one base in Lithuania (Šiauliai), to four nations (currently Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Canada) at two airbases (the second being Amari, in Estonia).

Image credit: Eurofighter – Geoffrey Lee, Planefocus Ltd

 

Russian Su-27 Flanker performs dangerous intercept putting itself within 10 meters of Swedish ELINT plane

One again, Russian Su-27s have been involved in a dangerous close encounter with a plane they have intercepted.

The Swedish Air Force operates a pair of Gulfstream IVSP aircraft, known in Swedish service as S102B Korpen, used for ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) purposes.

The aircraft, based on the American Gulfstream business jet but equipped with eavesdropping sensors, conduct surveillance missions in the Baltic Sea. According to Swedish Air Force officials, during those sorties, the Korpens fly in international airspace, with their transponders turned on, and regularly transmit their position to the relevant civilian air traffic control agency, both domestic and, if needed, foreign ones.

Nevertheless, as reported by the Swedish media outlet SvD Nyheter, the Swedish spyplanes are almost always intercepted by Russian armed fighter jets on Quick Reaction Alert at the Russian airbase in the Kaliningrad enclave.

Most of times such encounters are routine stuff, something that has happened in international airspace across the world, for several decades. However, Swedish officials who talked to SvD explained that the behaviour of the Russian Su-27 Flankers frequently scrambled to intercept the Gulfstreams has become increasingly aggressive.

The most dangerous incident occurred on Jul. 16, between Gotland and Latvia, when a Russian Su-27 Flanker, armed with 6 air-to-air missiles, intercepted one of the two Swedish ELINT jet, and flew as close as 10,7 meters of the spyplane.

Even if there was no real risk of collision, the incident highlighted a behavior that the Swedish military have not seen in previous years, SvD reported. In fact, international procedures recommend not flying closer than 50-150m from other planes during interceptions.

Actually, this is neither the first nor the last time a Russian Flanker performs a dangerous intercept on a foreign air arm’s surveillance plane.

On Apr. 10, 2012, a Royal Norwegian Air Force P-3 Orion flying over the Barents Sea came across a Russian Air Force Mig-31 Foxhound: the Norwegian crew initially observed the Mig-31 twice shadowing the P-3 at a safe distance, then disappearing. Moments later the Russian fighter jet came back from behind the patrol aircraft, so fast and close it was in danger of a mid-air collision.

On Apr. 23, 2014 a U.S. Air Force RC-135U Combat Sent performing a routine surveillance mission in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker which flew within 100 feet of the American aircraft.

On Jul. 18 (two days after the interception of the Swedish Gulfstream), an RC-135 Rivet Joint spyplane crossed the Swedish airspace, to escape interception by Russian fighter jets.

There are several other similar incidents that did not end with a collision; however, mid-air collisions occur every now and then.

On Sept. 13, 1987, a RNoAF P-3B collided mid-air with a Soviet Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker over the Barents Sea.

Although damaged, both planes were able to land safely, but all the episodes we have recalled, from the oldest to the most recent between the Russian Flanker and the Swedish Gulfstream show how dangerous close encounters can be.

H/T Erik Arnberg and Lasse Holmstrom for the heads-up

Image credit: Swedish Air Force via SvD

 

Chinese Su-27 Jet Threatened U.S. Surveillance Aircraft with a barrel roll stunt over the top of it

A Chinese Su-27 Flanker flew within 50 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft.

It looks like not only Russian Su-27 Flanker are involved in close encounters with U.S. surveillance planes around the world.

As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, a Chinese Su-27 flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) aircraft over the East China Sea, on Aug. 19.

The P-8, a derivative of the Boeing 737, capable to carry the Mk-54 airborne torpedo and the Harpoon anti-ship missile, and to perform ASW missions as well as ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) tasks, was conducting a routine surveillance mission in international airspace when a Chinese Flanker intercepted it.

Routine stuff, until the Chinese jet flew within 50 feet of the Poseidon “and then carried out a barrel roll over the top of the aircraft” a maneuver meant to threaten the American aircraft, as commented by US officials familiar with the incident who have talked to Washington Free Beacon’s

The American jet was one of the aircraft assigned to U.S. Navy’s VP-16, a squadron based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, that has been deployed to Kadena, Okinawa, one the largest U.S. airbases in the Asia-Pacific region, located about 400 chilometers East of the disputed Senkaku islands (Diaoyu for China), since December 2013.

Navy’s Poseidons not only assisted rescue efforts in the Philippines, supporting Operation Damayan, but they are constantly monitoring Chinese movements in region where tension is still high following the establishment of a Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

As already recalled when reporting about the RC-135U intercept last June, on Apr. 1, 2001, a U.S. Navy EP-3E with the VQ-1, flying an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) mission in international airspace 64 miles southeast of the island of Hainan was intercepted by two PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) J-8 fighters.

One of the J-8s piloted by Lt. Cdr. Wang Wei, made two close passes to the EP-3 before colliding with the spyplane on the third pass. As a consequence, the J-8 broke into two pieces and crashed into the sea causing the death of the pilot, whereas the EP-3, severely damaged, performed an unauthorized landing at China’s Lingshui airfield.

The 24 crew members (21 men and three women), that destroyed all (or at least most of ) the sensitive items and data on board the aircraft, were detained by Chinese authorities until Apr. 11.

H/T to Isaac Alexander for the heads-up

P-8A Safe Sep Harpoon #1 T-3 BuNo 167954 TD Ray Samora.

Image credit: PLAAF, U.S. Navy