Possible air-to-air shootdown captured on camera in Ukraine

Konwicki Marcin / Shutterstock.com

Several videos allegedly showing the final moments of a fighter jet over Ukraine have been posted on Russian and Ukrainian social media channels. 

The footage suggests the aircraft may have been shot down by an air-to-air missile, possibly indicating it was one of the first aerial engagements documented in the war. 

While it is difficult to verify which side the jet belonged to, footage of the wreckage seems to suggest it could be a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. 

Additional photos, originally posted by Russian sources, allegedly show the tail of the aircraft as bearing the emblem of the Ukrainian Air Force. The sources say the jet has been shot down by friendly fire, a claim which is impossible to verify at this point in time.

The original video, first posted on June 5, shows the aircraft flying level, at low altitude, before suddenly bursting into flames. Several men can be heard in the background cheering explosion and swearing loudly. The video bears the watermark of ‘Boatsman Boys’, and is likely to have been produced, or at least posted, by a channel linked to a unit led by Sergey “Boatsman” Korotkikh, one of the commanders of Ukraine’s Azov battalion. 

At least one other video posted online shows the same event filmed from a different angle. 

There is no smoke trail from the missile visible in the shots which indicates that the attack could have been performed by an air-to-air missile. Unlike ground-launched anti-aircraft missiles, air-launched missiles burn fuel during the early stages of the flight and coast the rest of the way to the target, without leaving a trail.  

Multiple sources indicate the aircraft was shot down near Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Numerous independently sourced maps depicting the situation in Southern Ukraine show the frontline moving south of Orikhiv, with heavy fighting in the vicinity of the town continuing for several weeks.  

Another video, originally posted by several pro-Russian social media channels, shows the screen of a DJI drone controller. The drone hovers over the burning wreckage of a jet, which can be identified as a type of Flanker, with the extent of the damage obscuring the camouflage or the markings. “A good enemy’s aircraft is the one that burns on the ground,” a man quips in Russian from behind the camera. 

According to the Twitter account, Ukraine Weapons Tracker, which documents weapon transfers and losses suffered by both sides during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian sources indicate that the aircraft belonged to the Ukrainian Air Force. 

If the footage does show that the aircraft was shot down by an air-to-air missile it could well be one of the first shootdowns to be documented during the war. 

During the early staged of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, multiple videos surfaced online allegedly depicting dogfights between Russian and Ukrainian jets. However, most, if not all, of this footage has been difficult to confirm with some of the clips showing obvious signs of having been lifted from video games.  

Both Russian and Ukrainian air forces published claims of intense air-to-air engagements over the vast territory of Ukraine. However, due to the nature of modern air combat, such engagements are almost impossible to film from the ground, especially with consumer-grade electronics.  

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