Look down and shoot down! A Russian Su-35 shot down Ukrainian Su-25s and MiG-29s during a combat sortie

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Recently, a Russian Su-35S multirole fighter successfully engaged and shot down Ukrainian Su-25 and MiG-29 aircraft during a combat sortie, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Su-35S fighter pilot Klim said a pair of Su-25s and a MiG-29 were spotted about 200 kilometers away. Apparently, the Su-25s were preparing to carry out the ground attack, and the MiG-29s were to escort them.

According to the pilot, after the launch of the missile, the radar beacons disappeared. Further, intelligence confirmed: two planes were shot down, and the cover fighter left the escort area.

The Russian sukhois were very effective

However, Russian fighters remained highly effective and deadly against Ukrainian aircraft throughout the war, especially Su-35s armed with the R-77-1 air-to-air missile (AAM), according to a recent war study. Russian airline. in Ukraine, led by the London-based Royal United Services Institute.

A pair of R-77-1 medium-range air-to-air missiles under the two center stations of an Su-35S fighter. (Russian Defense Ministry)

Produced by one of Russia’s leading missile manufacturers Vympel, the R-77-1 is an Active Radar Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM that can engage airborne targets such as fighters, attack, bombers, helicopters, cruise missiles, etc., to a range of about 110 kilometers.

Ukrainian fighter pilots quoted by RUSI experts admit that Russian Su-30SM and Su-35S completely outperform Ukrainian Air Force fighters.

The difference in technology between the aircraft of the two air forces mainly includes the R-77-1 AAM coupled with the excellent detection and killing performance of the N011M Bars and N035 Irbis-E radars on board Russian fighters.

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N035 Irbis-E PESA radar used on the Su-35S multirole fighter (Twitter)

Since the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, Russian fighters have obtained a radar lock and fired R-77-1 missiles at Ukrainian fighters over 100 kilometers away.

The R-77-1 missile’s active radar seeker, coupled with modern N011M and N035 radars, allows Russian fighters to launch missiles in track-while-scan (TWS) mode.

The TWS capability allows the radar to allocate part of its power to tracking a target or multiple targets. At the same time, part of its power is also used for scanning, which means that the missile can be guided from the launch plane to fly close to the target, after which its radar can become active in the terminal phase. of the flight.

In the case of Ukrainian fighter pilots, this leaves them unaware that they have been launched, as radar warning receivers (RWRs) cannot detect radio emissions from the incoming missile until its radar is activated. At that point, there is no time left for the target to respond.

On the other hand, the R-27R/ER missiles used by the Ukrainian Air Force require a Single Target Track (STT) lock to be maintained by the launch aircraft’s radar throughout. missile engagement.

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Ukrainian MiG-29 with R-73, R-27 missiles

This means that when a Ukrainian fighter launches a radar-guided missile, the launch is picked up by the RWRs on board the Russian fighters. Additionally, if the Ukrainian fighter loses a radar lock on the target even for a brief moment during a missile flight due to maneuvers to either side, deployment of countermeasures, or electronic warfare, the missile will miss.

In addition, the range of the R-27 reaches a maximum of about 80-95 kilometers, while the R-77-1, as mentioned earlier, can reach more than 100 kilometers.

In addition, in recent weeks, Russian Su-35s have also used the long-range R-37M AAM, which can hit high-speed air targets over 300 kilometers away.

Su-35S Fring R-37M missile (Twitter)

The long-range missile enables Russian fighter jets to shoot down Ukrainian warplanes flying in heavily defended airspace under NATO AWACS surveillance and protected by S-300 missiles.

Also, the Ukrainian Air Force outnumbers the Russian Air Force, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times. The Russian military deployed about 10-12 combat aircraft against a Ukrainian fighter.

Nevertheless, more than eight months into the war, Ukraine has still managed to maintain its contested airspace, and this is due to the ability of Ukrainian pilots to adapt to the challenges.

Ukrainian pilots adopt dangerous tactics

Ukrainian fighter pilots began flying low at treetop level to exploit ground clutter and terrain masking to sneak up on Russian Sukhois and fire their missiles.

However, flying at low altitudes reduced the effective range of Ukrainian air-to-air missiles, while the high altitude and higher speeds of Russian fighters gave their missiles much more launch energy.

More importantly, it is a very dangerous tactic, and several Ukrainian fighters have been shot down or damaged.

Overall, Ukraine’s losses are much greater than Russia’s. The pre-war inventory of air defense assets of Ukraine included about 30 Su-27s and about 50 MiG-29s which can also be used for air-to-ground purposes.

At present, Ukraine has lost up to 15 MiG-29s and five Su-27s, according to the latest figures compiled by military tracking blog Oryx based on visual confirmations. Of these, a MiG-29 and a Su-27 were destroyed on the ground.

Meanwhile, as documented by Oryx, Russia’s losses include just one Su-35S and eleven Su-30SMs, of which five Su-30s were destroyed on the ground.

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