Two Russian Federation pilots, one Air Force, and one Navy, were captured alive at two separate locations today in Chernihiv and Nikolaev. The pilots were injured, but alive and speaking in both videos posted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
The first shootdown, reportedly in the Northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, was of a Russian Su-34 FULLBACK, piloted by Major Krasnoruchev who famously posed with President Putin and Assad in 2016.
In the initial phases of the invasion, open source venues were showing an overwhelming majority of Close Air Support (CAS) missions being carried out by the legacy Su-25 FROGFOOT. However, as Russian ground troops began to gain ground in Northern and Southern Ukraine, indications began coming in that CAS was being performed more and more by the FULLBACK. Considering the amount of FROGFOOTs being shot down and Russian Ground Forces advancing up to the operational range of the aircraft, it makes sense that these missions would be taken over by the longer-ranging and more survivable FULLBACK, which has a much better onboard jammer.
The second shootdown was about four hours later in Southern Ukraine near Mykolaiv (or Nikolaev) when an unnamed Russian pilot, flying a Su-30SM, was shot down by a Ukrainian S-300. According to Ukrainian officials who interrogated the pilot he was from the 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment of the Russian Navy based in Crimea. Su-30SM is a multi-role fighter developed based on the Su-30MK combat aircraft family.
The Russian Federation has been waging a massive combined arms war against Ukraine since nearly 100 cruise missiles and tac-air strikes flew across the border on February 24th. Those missiles and strikes were aimed at neutralizing the nearly 100 Ukrainian S-300 Transporter Erector Launchers, the most capable shooting units of the Ukrainian IADS, as well as their Early Warning and Target Acquisition/ Engagement Radars. While these strikes and subsequent SEAD operations have destroyed a number, it is clear after today’s events that these systems still present a great threat to Russian aviation, especially around Kyiv, near the Joint Forces Operation” (JFO) area and southern Ukraine near Kherson, which in the past two days has reportedly fallen into Russian hands.
After more than a week of grinding combat along four major fronts, it is clear that the Ukrainian Integrated Air Defense System has not been fully suppressed as planners in the Russian Ministry of Defense would have hoped. While it is impossible at this time to say how many aircraft have been lost, it is worth noting 9 confirmed events in which each saw a Russian tac-air asset downed. The situation looks even bleaker when we consider the number of helicopters lost, especially near Hostomels and Kyiv where air assault support operations carried Russian VDV troops into the Weapon Engagement Zones (WEZ) of Ukrainian strategic and tactical SAMs as well as MANPADS. See the below video for the infamous footage circulating of a Russian Mi-24 being downed by a Ukrainian SAM today.