KYIV ($1=37.13 Ukrainian Hryvnias) — Thanks to social networks, the ability to share, and the Internet in general, today people can follow the news in real-time. Even if the media is silent or does not share the important things of the day, people with a phone and a video camera become the reporter’s place.
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Since the start of the war, spectacular photos and videos have been constantly shared on social media. The Ukraine-Russia war can be said to be being watched live on air. Successes and failures are seen.
Against the background of all this, witnessing what is happening, Ukraine has the right to insist on modern anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as fighter jets. Currently, the Ukrainian Air Force consists of the MiG-29, Su-25, and Su-27. Of course, in nine months, both the Russian and Ukrainian air forces lost a lot of air equipment. Ukraine does not surrender and does not allow Russian aircraft to establish dominance in the air.
However, some moments impress not so much with their effect, but with productivity. Here is such a moment recorded on video. Twitter user @UkraineRussia2 claims to have filmed a Ukrainian MiG-29 shooting down a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile. BulgarianMilitary.com cannot confirm the authenticity of the video, nor when and how it happened, and especially where. But the footage shows a fighter jet maneuvering sharply, at one point firing an air-to-air missile. A missile maneuver very quickly changes its trajectory and an explosion follows. “Wow, [it got] shot down!” a woman is heard saying in the background.
The Russian Kh-101 missile is a cruise missile. It is one of the latest developments to replace the aging Russian Kh-55 cruise missile. Stealth technology gives the missile an advantage when it needs to bypass enemy air defenses. In this particular case, however, it is quite possible that the Ukrainian MiG-29 intercepted and shot down the missile because we are talking about visual contact and the fact that the Kh-101 is moving at a speed of Mach 0.57 – 0.59. Relatively slow speed by the standards of a well-trained fighter pilot.
The Kh-101 was developed for air launch. The warhead it can carry is of several types, most commonly a conventional high-explosive warhead [Russia uses such in Ukraine], or a 250 kt nuclear warhead.
The Kh-101’s predecessor, the Kh-55, has also been in the news recently. Ukraine reported that such a missile fell in Kyiv, but with the warhead removed and an empty block installed in its place to imitate a warhead. This has raised many questions, including whether Russia is signaling to Ukraine that it will be next with a nuclear warhead, or whether Russia is depleting its stockpile of conventional warheads.
There is a third option, which may be the closest to the Kremlin’s alleged findings. With or without a warhead, the missile engages enemy air defenses. If you launch missiles with imitation warheads at first, you can significantly reduce the air defense reserves of the enemy defense, then launch a second or third wave of missile strikes, but this time with conventional warheads. In this way, you can achieve greater efficiency even with less precise rockets.
Back to Ukrainian fighter air defense. Ukrainian MiG-29s and Su-27s patrol as much as possible in the skies of Ukraine. Russia attacked military bases early in the war and managed to shoot down a large part of the Ukrainian air force. Perhaps that is why Ukraine has changed its tactics – it prefers to engage in air combat with the few remaining fighters than to use them for air-to-ground attacks or to bomb Russian positions.
Another video shot in the sky over Ukraine and shared on November 13th claims otherwise. According to the author of the tweet @miladvisor, a Ukrainian MiG-29 pursued and shot down an Iranian Shahed-136 drone. BulgarianMilitary.com is again unable to confirm the truth of the claims, precisely because of the lack of basic data – where and when the video was shot. Also, although the video recorded the launch of an air-to-air missile from the plane, it is not clear whether the missile hit an aerial object, and if it did, whether it was able to shoot it down.
There is also an opposite case to the one described. A drone shot down a plane and it happened in Ukraine. According to sources, a Ukrainian pilot dropped five loitering munitions Shahed-136. The landing of the fifth piece of shrapnel or debris from the Iranian drone damaged the Ukrainian fighter, forcing the pilot to eject.
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