MOSCOW, RUSSIA — The Russian fighter Su-35 is used in Ukraine mainly for the covert missions of bombers and attack aircraft. Analyzes from the last 11 months show exactly that.
- Russia ‘shots’ its most advanced fighter – the MiG-35 Fulcrum-F
- Su-57 is slowing down, so the modernized flank Su-35SM is coming
- MiG-31 seems to be the best aircraft Russia has in Ukraine
Such an opinion was expressed by one of the Su-35C pilots interviewed by the Russian media Izvestia. The interview was taken days ago but was published today, January 11th. The name of the pilot was not revealed, but his callsign Matvei was revealed.
Matvei spoke in front of Izvestia’s video cameras. He says his job “is to patrol and cover the actions of bombers and attack aircraft in the area of the special operation”. Matvey reveals that several times he had to participate in air support of the Russian ground forces with his Su-35C. However, its main task remains the concealment of Russian strategic aviation, made up of strategic bombers participating in the bombing of Ukrainian positions.
BulgarianMilitary.com reports that the participation of the Su-35 in bomber missions is a practice of the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS]. The work of the Su-35 pilot is more difficult and dangerous than that of the MiG-31 bombers. The first should engage the enemy’s radar system, flying at medium and low altitudes. In this way, the MiG-31 flying at high altitudes can safely drop the bombs over pre-selected targets.
It is precisely such risky actions by the pilots of the Su-35C that caused Russia to lose a part of its best fourth-generation fighter. They are rarely intercepted by Ukrainian air defense systems, but flying at low altitudes, they are often intercepted by man-portable anti-aircraft missile systems. There is evidence that it is the man-portable anti-aircraft missile systems that most often shoot down the Su-35.
Pilot Matvei confirms this tactic of the Russian Air Force and how dangerous it is to fly at medium and low altitudes. “One day, when I was on an air patrol, I found the enemy. I found that the target was a group, the objects were moving toward Donetsk. When an opportunity arose, he attacked an air target. Then he made sure that the target was hit and continued to patrol ”, says the pilot.
Intelligence reports, both Western and Russian, indicate that Su-35 pilots must cover the actions of the attack helicopters as well. Army aviation, armed with various modifications of Mil Mi helicopters, as well as the best Russian Ka-52 helicopter, often conducts airstrikes on military facilities and equipment of the Ukrainian armed forces.
It is most difficult for the Su-35 pilot to support the actions of attacks by helicopter formations. Helicopters are generally much easier to shoot down, as they fly at very low altitudes during their raid. They are vulnerable to the fast-acting portable anti-aircraft missiles of the Ukrainians. The Su-35 in this case does not have much of a target to pursue, as the “guerrilla way” of concealing small Ukrainian groups of 3 people armed with one MANPAD is beyond the pilot’s reach. Thus, the Su-35 is forced to fly also at low altitudes, which as we reported is a problem for the pilot.
The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement on January 5th. It states that there has been a drastic reduction in the activity of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces. According to military experts, it is the missions of the Su-35 covering the bombers that are the reason why Russia has successfully countered the air defense.
Apparently, the work of the Su-35 pilots did not go unnoticed by Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin. In his address on December 8, he noted: “that the Su-34, Su-35 attack aircraft are doing excellently and are showing very good results.”
Matvey says he is grateful for the military exercises over the years since he became a Su-35 pilot. Now, during the war in Ukraine, he relies on this very experience. His very participation in real combat is also an accumulation of more knowledge and experience, says the pilot philosophically. “The tension is much greater now as a participant in real combat operations than in peacetime, during training and exercises,” concludes Matvey.
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