Reports that the Russians have still not secured air superiority over Ukraine continue to be bolstered by video evidence. On Tuesday, footage of a Mi-24P attack helicopter going down over the Dnieper River went viral. Since then, numerous other shoot downs have been recorded.
A few of the latest Russian losses include a Mi-24 (or Ka-50, hard to tell), a Su-30 fighter-bomber, and a Su-34 bomber, and these are just the videos I'm choosing to highlight. There are several more examples out there indicating heavy Russian air losses over the last two days (Thursday and Friday).
Russian attack helicopter shot down over Ukraine by anti-aircraft missile pic.twitter.com/VWfqJlFI2s— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) March 5, 2022
#BREAKING: A fighter jet of #RussianAirForce was shot down by #UkrainianArmy near #Chernihiv at 11:30 local time. It is a Su-34 strike bomber. Both pilot and navigator ejected and are survived. pic.twitter.com/Yv8GcFamgN— Babak Taghvaee – Μπάπακ Τακβαίε – بابک تقوایی (@BabakTaghvaee) March 5, 2022
The Su-34's flight crew ejected, and pictures have now emerged of the two men, one captured and the other having succumbed to his injuries (possibly hitting the canopy during the ejection sequence).
Poor navigator lost his life. I have a footage showing him having massive head injury under his flight helpmet possibly caused by impact to the canopy or something else. The airplane was rolling when they ejected. pic.twitter.com/dJYe0zxO52— Babak Taghvaee – Μπάπακ Τακβαίε – بابک تقوایی (@BabakTaghvaee) March 5, 2022
In another case, a Su-30 went down near Odessa. The pilot was captured alive and mostly unharmed.
#BREAKING: The fighter jet which #UkrainianAirForce has shot-down in the west of #Odessa is one of 12 Su-30SM multirole fighters of 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment (43 OMShAP) of #RussianNavy based in #Saki, #Crimea! pic.twitter.com/lgNqrvZASo— Babak Taghvaee – Μπάπακ Τακβαίε – بابک تقوایی (@BabakTaghvaee) March 5, 2022
There are reports that the injured aircrew members have been taken to local hospitals to have their wounds attended to. It does not appear from any of the videos and pictures posted that the crowds who captured them mistreated them in any way.
As to the broader picture, it's probably time to start asking just how much of a paper tiger the Russian Air Force is. While you could argue that the armor units in Ukraine are not Russia's newest technology (they appear to be mostly T-80s and T-90s), the Su-30SM, of which two were shot down yesterday, is a 4+ generation fighter and represents the best Russia has to offer in wide service. These kinds of losses are not normal for a supposed major power, and they show either a lack of technological edge, a lack of operational ability, or both.
I've long been a proponent of the idea that the propaganda surrounding the Russian military isn't indicative of reality. For example, concerns that the Russians can combat the F-35 in open warfare appear to be incredibly overwrought, regardless of how troubled that weapons program has been. Certainly, they have nothing close to an answer for the F-22.
But it's the issues in the command and operational side of things that show the most weakness. A country can have the best equipment in the world, but if they don't know how to organize and use it properly, with proper tactics, they will be defeated. There is no reason Russia, which presents itself as the second most powerful military on earth, should be suffering these kinds of losses unless their air force is far weaker than assumed.
I believe the same dynamic likely exists with the Chinese military as well. There's a lot of smoke and mirrors coming from the Chinese in regards to their true capability. Of course, Russia and China have nuclear weapons, and that's the great equalizer when it comes to discussions of total war.