Russia May Have Shot Down One Of Its Own Fighter Jets, UK Claims

Very few of these modern planes have fallen in the course of the war so far.
Russian-made Sukhoi SU-35 military jet
Russian-made Sukhoi SU-35 military jet
AFP via Getty Images

The UK believes Russia may have taken out one of its own, particularly prized, jets in occupied Ukraine at the end of September.

According to the UK’s ministry of defence (MoD), Russian air defence forces “highly likely shot down one of their own” most advanced combat planes when it was flying over the occupied city of Tokmak, in Zaporizhzhia.

The incident is said to have occurred around 20km behind the current frontline.

The UK intelligence officers continued, pointing out that this was a significant blow to Russia because very few of these jets have fallen during the course of the war.

It said: “Although Russia has lost around 90 fixed wing aircrafts since the start of the invasion, this is probably only the fifth loss of a Su-35S, Russia’s most advanced combat jet in widespread service.”

It added: “The location is relevant because Tokmak is a heavily fortified town which often hosts Russian headquarters commanding one of the most intensely contested sectors of the frontline.”

Zaporizhzhia was illegally annexed by Vladimir Putin last September, but Ukraine is trying hard to reclaim it.

The MoD continued: “These headquarters would typically be protected with dedicated short and medium range air defence systems.

“These are almost certainly held at very high readiness, as Ukraine continues to conduct effective deep strikes against such locations.”

The MoD made the announcement after Ukrainian journalist Andrii Tsaplienko shared a black and white photo on Telegram on September 30, appearing to show the destroyed jet in a field.

The Russian defence ministry has not confirmed reports.

Even though these combat jets, said to be worth more than £80 million, are cherished by Moscow, not everyone thinks this was a major incident.

The US think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) claimed earlier this week – before the MoD update – that the “situation remains unclear”.

The experts explained: “Ukrainian and Western media reported the Russian fratricide incident, but Russian sources have yet to acknowledge or deny the incident.

“The reported footage of the event is unclear, but this incident, if true, would not be shocking as both Ukrainian and Russian forces use Soviet-era aircraft, making accidents through misidentification more likely in highly congested and contested airspace.

“This possible Russian fratricide incident does not necessarily indicate a systemic problem with Russian air defences.”

The supposed incident comes after a flurry of attacks from Ukraine, including missiles strikes against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.


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