A strafing run by an attack aircraft was filmed by a Russian military drone near Ukraine’s Kherson.  

A spectacular display of close-range air-to-ground attack shows the aircraft approaching a target, releasing its ordinance, and flying away while releasing countermeasures.  

The footage was first posted by a pro-Russian Telegram channel HersonVestnik. The description of the video claims a Ukrainian aircraft was “caught by a camera” and by “anti-aircraft defenses”. It also states that the airplane was piloted by a pilot named Maxim Blagovisty, who died.  

The clip was also widely reposted by many pro-Russian social media accounts which state that the footage shows a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 being shot down. Meanwhile, pro-Ukrainian sources claim the footage shows a successful strafing run conducted by a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet.  

However, closer inspection of the footage reveals that both claims are most likely false  

The flares  

While the quality of the video is not good enough to distinguish the shape or the color of the aircraft, it can be stated, with a high degree of certainty, that the profile does not look like the Su-25, which has highly recognizable straight wings. The wings on the aircraft in question are distinctly swept, like either the MiG-29 or the Su-27 and its derivatives.  

After bombing the ground and turning right, the aircraft releases flares, countermeasures designed to lure away enemy missiles.   

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Screenshots from the video footage showing the release of flares after the bombing run (Image: HersonVestnik / Telegram) 

The pattern of the flares is quite distinct. They are released in pairs, downwards. Setting aside the frequency of the releases, which can be set depending on the preferences of the pilot, this pattern corresponds with that of just one aircraft used in the conflict: the Sukhoi Su-34.  

As noted in the comparison image below, the Su-25, the MiG-29, the Su-27 (as well as its derivatives the Su-30 and the Su-35), each have flare dispensers located at the top of the aircraft and shoot flares upwards during the release.   

However, the Su-34 attack jet, used only by the Russian Air Force, has dispensers on the bottom of its iconic tail boom, and releases flares downwards.   

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The
Su-25, MiG-29, Su-27 and Su-34 while releasing flares (Image: Ukrainian Air Force / Russian Aerospace Forces / AeroTime) 

The location 

The footage can be easily geolocated thanks to features seen on the ground. It was filmed in the village of Bilohirka, approximately 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kherson.   

The area has seen heavy fighting since the start of the invasion. According to Liveuamap.com, Bilohirka was captured by Russian forces in March 2022, and remained on the frontline ever since.   

It was marked as recaptured during one of Ukraine’s shaping operations in late July. However, Ukraine did not officially announce that the settlement had been liberated until September 12, likely indicating that the area was heavily contested.  

Numerous videos, allegedly filmed in the village, show heavy toll fighting inflicted on its buildings.  

The Su-34 attack, captured in the drone footage, likely contributed to the destruction. If so, it is just one of multiple Russian bombing runs conducted to counter the Ukrainian advance in the region, which saw heavy involvement by Russian aircraft stationed in nearby Crimea.