Ultra-low level maneuvering is one of the tactics needed to dodge IR-guided MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems).
The video that you can find in this post has started doing the rounds in the last couple of days. According to some sources, it was shot in the Severodonetsk region, in the eastern side of Ukraine, and shows two Ukrainian Air Force Su-25s [the guy who filmed it is allegedly Ukrainian and says “it’s ours”], whereas other sources on social media identified the attack aircraft as Russian Aerospace Forces Frogfoot aircraft.
Since both the Ukrainians and the Russians fly the type in the contested airspace over Ukraine, is really difficult to ID the operator [someone even suggested the camouflage scheme does not appear to be dark as the one of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ Su-25, meaning the Frogfoot jets in the clip *might* sport a digitized light gray paint scheme but, again, this appears impossible to verify with the low quality of the clip].
Whatever, the video, that appears to be genuine (although we can’t say when and where it was shot), is really impressive: even if it was was recorded with a smartphone hence shaky and partly out of focus, it proves how low tactical aircraft need to operate in Ukraine to evade the threat of MANPADS and their lethal IR-guided missiles. You can make out two Sukhois turning at low level while releasing flares to dodge possible missiles fired at them. The cameraman finds it difficult to follow one or the other but the scene is pretty clear: you can make out both aircraft trying to remain low and fast while flying an unpredictable path. And dropping plenty of flares.
There are two different version of the same video actually. The first one is shaky, as the result of the cameraman zooming to get a closer view of the Su-25s.
View this post on Instagram
The second one offers a wider angle and allows the viewer to see the whole scene from distance.
View this post on Instagram
We have already explained how the war in Ukraine will probably change the tactics of many air forces, at least for those which had (almost) abandoned the ultra-low level flying as a consequence of the experience gained in in those air campaigns (like Desert Storm in Iraq, Allied Force in the Balkans and Unified Protector in Libya) where the air superiority allowed the attack aircraft to operate at medium or high-level, instead of flying at treetop altitude (as done for instance like the Falklands War). As most of the videos coming from Ukraine clearly highlighted, contested airspace and MANPADS threat have made low level flying skills relevant again.
Russian Su-25 in the Donbas. https://t.co/N71m2GTvhi pic.twitter.com/QbPXiXKTEg
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 16, 2022
H/T to our friend @bjoernen_hj for the heads-up!