(PresidentialHill.com)- In Ukraine, Russia’s “finest” military gear has failed miserably. The Kremlin has thus far lost numerous T-90M main battle tanks (MBTs), and the Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva was blown up. Even the Sukhoi Su-35S, which was previously feared, now looks to be little more than a bunch of hype.
On May 27, a second Su-35S (NATO reporting designation Flanker-E) was shot down during aerial combat over the Kherson area, according to the Ukrainian military. That came less than two months after Ukrainian air defenses shot down another Su-35S near Kharkiv in early April.
On Twitter, the Ukrainian Air Force (@KpsZSU) confirmed the news and announced that a MiG-29 fighter shot down a Russian Su-35 fighter in the skies over the Kherson region at 2 p.m. while it was searching for Ukrainian assault aircraft.
“Glory to Ukrainian pilots!” they wrote.
The aircraft was purportedly assigned to a SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) mission to disable enemy ground-based air defense radars. The wreckage of a Kh-31 anti-radiation missile (ARM) was located among the crashed Flanker’s debris.
The Sukhoi Su-35S is a “4++ generation” plane with elements of fifth-generation technology incorporated into its design. The Flanker-E is a single-seat, twin-engine, supermaneuverable plane that is essentially the second enhanced version of the Su-27M. The Su-27 canards have been replaced with thrust-vectoring engines. It has been ballyhooed as a more than capable adversary to modern American aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, and even the F-35 Lightning II.
Russia has traditionally boasted about its military prowess.
The Su-35 has a GSh-30-1 30mm autocannon with 150 rounds and a payload of 17,630 pounds on 12 external points. Air-to-air, air-to-surface, anti-radiation and anti-ship missiles can be loaded onto the aircraft. No fourth-generation fighter can match the Su-35 in maneuverability, thanks to its twin Saturn AL-41F1S turbofans. It is a well-armed, fast aircraft with a peak speed of 1,550mph and a height of 59,050ft.
This aircraft has long been regarded as one of the greatest air superiority fighters in the world. But the news that one was taken down, allegedly by an inferior Ukrainian MiG-29, raises some concerns. But one dumb move, during one brief moment in time, like with everything in battle, may very well be the last move you ever make, and any aircraft is only as good as its pilot — a point worth recognizing.
As has been well noted, Russia currently lacks access to the training and exercise available to NATO air forces. This has been determinant in Russia’s failure to attain air supremacy despite possessing more – and presumably more capable – aircraft. Another problem is that, like infantry and tank crews, the Kremlin’s pilots do not have the same commitment to the struggle as their Ukrainian counterparts.
Two Su-35S aircraft have been shot down in the Ukraine skies so far, but they are unlikely to be the last.