Two Ukrainian Su-27s ruined, four damaged in outdoor attack – Bulgarian Military

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A surge of frustration is rippling through social networks from accounts that back Ukraine’s armed forces against the Russian invasion. The catalyst? A Russian attack that occurred over Sunday-Monday [July 31 – August 1]. 

The assault targeted Mirgorod Airport, as confirmed by numerous sources. On the day of the strike, six Su-27 fighters from the Ukrainian Air Force were positioned out in the open. David Ax, in his Forbes commentary, noted that a Russian drone played a crucial role in the success of this operation. 

The drone spotted the airport and the exposed aircraft. Without any cover like camouflage nets, anti-drone grids, canopies, or bunkers, the six Su-27s were easy targets. Soon after, Russian cluster rockets and Iskander-M SRBMs attacked. All six planes were hit, with two destroyed and four damaged. This is a major loss for Ukraine, especially given their limited equipment and ammunition.

This might have been one of the costliest days for Ukraine’s air force since Russia escalated the conflict in February 2022. “There are some losses,” admitted Air Force official Yuri Ignat. Ukrainian bloggers quickly blamed Air Force officers for ordering the planes to be parked in the open near the front line. “Thousands of years of war, and we learn nothing,” one blogger said. 

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“This is just foolishness. Russian forces, using a cluster missile and an Iskander-M SRBM, managed to destroy two UkrAF SU-27s and damaged four others, all parked in the open at Myrhorod Airbase. Whoever is in charge of the base needs to be fired,” wrote OSINT analyst WarVehicleTracker. 

The attack on Myrhorod is one of many Russian strikes on vulnerable Ukrainian air bases. Recently, Russian Lancet drones have hit at least four Ukrainian aircraft at the Dolgintsevo air base near Kryvyi Rih, just 45 miles from the front line in southern Ukraine.

Photo credit: Flight Aware

Last fall, initial strikes surprised the Ukrainian Air Force, destroying two MiG-29 fighter jets. In November, another strike took down a Sukhoi Su-25 unmanned attack aircraft. Later, a fourth drone strike hit another Su-25 in flight. 

Additionally, Iskander missiles destroyed two Su-27s in Mirgorod. This brings the total to at least five Ukrainian warplanes lost to Russian attacks over the past nine months. These losses are significant and difficult for Ukraine to replace. 

The Ukrainian Su-27 is a variant of the Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-27, a highly capable air superiority fighter initially developed during the Cold War. The Su-27 is known for its impressive range, powerful radar, and agility, making it a formidable opponent in aerial combat. The Ukrainian Air Force inherited these aircraft following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and has since maintained and operated them as part of its defense capabilities.

Iskander missile system
Photo credit: Dzen

One of the primary differences between the Ukrainian Su-27 and the Russian version lies in the upgrades and modifications each country has implemented over the years. While Russia has continued to develop advanced iterations like the Su-30, Su-35, and Su-57, Ukraine has focused on maintaining and modernizing its existing fleet. Ukrainian upgrades have often been constrained by budgetary and technological limitations, leading to a more incremental improvement approach compared to Russia’s more extensive advancements. 

In terms of dimensions, the Su-27 measures approximately 21.9 meters in length, has a wingspan of 14.7 meters, and stands about 5.9 meters tall. It has a maximum takeoff weight of around 33,000 kilograms. These dimensions are consistent across both the Ukrainian and Russian versions, as they share the same basic airframe design. 

The technical characteristics of the Ukrainian Su-27 include a top speed of around Mach 2.35, a service ceiling of approximately 19,000 meters, and a range of about 3,530 kilometers without external fuel tanks. The aircraft is powered by two Saturn AL-31F after-burning turbofan engines, each producing around 123 kN of thrust. These specifications enable the Su-27 to perform a variety of missions, including air superiority, interception, and ground attack.

Watch: Su-27s toss high-speed high-drag bombs on Russian facilities
Photo: Wallpaper HQ

The types of systems onboard the Ukrainian Su-27 include radar, avionics, and electronic warfare suites. While the basic systems are similar to those found in the original Soviet models, Ukraine has made efforts to upgrade these components to improve performance and reliability. This includes modernizing the radar systems for better target acquisition and tracking, as well as enhancing the avionics for improved navigation and communication. 

Due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, there has been a push to make the Ukrainian Su-27 compatible with Western ammunition and systems. This includes integrating Western air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, as well as upgrading avionics to be compatible with NATO standards. These modifications aim to enhance the operational effectiveness of the Su-27 and ensure interoperability with allied forces. 

The types of armament carried by the Ukrainian Su-27 include a mix of Soviet-era and potentially Western munitions. Standard armament includes R-27 [AA-10 Alamo] and R-73 [AA-11 Archer] air-to-air missiles, as well as various unguided bombs and rockets for ground attack missions. With ongoing upgrades, there is potential for the integration of Western missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder, which would significantly enhance the aircraft’s combat capabilities.

Confirmed: Ukrainian Su-27S fighter drops AASM-250 Hammer bomb
Video screenshot

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On February 21, 2022, Russia stated that its border facility was attacked by Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of five Ukrainian fighters. However, Ukraine quickly dismissed these allegations, labeling them as ‘false flags’.

In a notable move on the same day, Russia announced it officially recognized the self-proclaimed areas of DPR and LPR. Interestingly, according to Russian President Putin, this recognition covered all the Ukrainian regions. Following this declaration, Putin sent a battalion of Russia’s military forces, tanks included, into these areas.

Su-27 Flanker uses iPad tablet to launch American AGM-88 HARM
Video screenshot

Fast forward to February 24, 2022, global headlines were dominated by a significant incident. Putin commanded a forceful military assault on Ukraine. Led by Russia’s impressive Armed Forces positioned at the Ukrainian border, this assault wasn’t spontaneous but a premeditated action. Despite the circumstances resembling a war, the Russian government refrains from using this term. They’d rather refer to it as a “special military operation”.

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