Sukhoi Was Practicing Dispersed Landings, When Ground Collision Occurred.
A Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 combat aircraft narrowly avoided a more serious accident when it landed short and collided with a traffic sign during an expedient tactical airstrip training exercise on Thursday, August 27, 2020, in Ukraine.
The unusual accident occurred on a closed portion of the M06 international highway between Kyiv and the city of Chop. The area was being used for a training simulation that demonstrated the use of “twelve fighters” on an improvised, forward dispersed highway landing area according to a report on unian.info. The aircraft were reported to be from the Ukrainian “39th Tactical Aviation Brigade” according to the report. A quote attributed to a Ukrainian military source on the media outlet said, “These skills will come in handy for war pilots in the event of a large-scale enemy invasion”.
Reports of the incident surfaced on Twitter and from reporter Dylan Malyasov of the defence-blog.com. A number of people in the area took photos and video of the incident, which immediately circulated across social media.
The roadway had been prepared for the tactical exercise in advance by removing some road signs and lamp posts in the planned landing area. Police also blocked access to the roadway. Pyrotechnics were also set off to scare birds away from the area to prevent bird-strike.
The aircraft that collided with the traffic sign may have made a short approach for an unknown reason. A second Su-27 can be seen in one video immediately behind the first making a longer approach and rejected landing as two additional Su-27s fly overhead in echelon formation as if entering a landing pattern.
A photo in several social media posts and news reports showed the Su-27 involved in the incident, apparently back at an airfield, with the bent traffic sign wrapped around the intake inlet on the aircraft’s left side.
Many Russian-built aircraft, such the MiG-29, are equipped with a ventilated cover that lowers over their intakes at landing speeds to prevent the ingestion of foreign objects into the engine when operating from unimproved areas such as a highway or field. The Su-27 involved in this incident did not appear to be equipped with an anti-foreign object damage cover on its intakes, meaning the aircraft’s engine could have sustained damage had the sign gone directly into the intake instead of being lodged on its edge.
A similar incident, occurred to one A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, during landing and take off training from an extension of Jägala-Käravete Highway, a portion of the longer road known as Piibe Highway, in Northern Estonia, on Aug. 10, 2017. The aircraft hit and damaged a road sign at roughly 3.15 PM local time. Although the Warthog, carrying a dummy AGM-85 Maverick missile and a Litening ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod) did not suffer significant damage (the Thunderbolt II is an extremely sturdy plane, able to survive much more than a few scrapes) and was able to take off again later on, the highway remained closed until the following morning.