A Russian pilot’s head camera footage that had recently gone viral online shows the moment the pilot ejected from his Su-25 fighter jet and fell to the ground before his jet crashed into a field and exploded.
The jet was shot down by what is presumed to be Ukrainian fire, and the explosion was seen from kilometers away. The Russian Su-25 aircraft had been cruising over the area at treetop height.
The video was first posted on a Russian military Telegram channel. Later, defense analyst Rob Lee shared the footage on Twitter.
Russian and Ukrainian fighter pilots frequently maneuver their aircraft dangerously close to the ground. The tactic is used to dodge hostile radar systems, typically set up to identify targets flying higher.
However, this approach is risky as it exposes aircraft to machinegun fire and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. It was unclear if the pilot was shielded from flying debris after his plane was struck, though he managed to escape the crash.
The Su-25SM with bort number 09 Red looks to be the aircraft engaged in the event. In the video, one can see the Frogfoot shortly after the pilot jumps out, and it appears that one of the engines is on fire. A portion of the aircraft tail is also missing.
The aircraft and its unit seem to have been identified by defense journalist Mike Yeo. She said that the Su-25SM RF-91965 and Su-25SM3 RF-93025 are the two VKS Su-25 Frogfoots found with Bort No. 09 Red.
Yeo noted, “Based on camo demarcation and the lack of dorsal antenna, this downed aircraft was very likely Su-25SM RF-91965/ 09 Red from the 18th ShAP of the VKS (based at Chernigovka).”
Meanwhile, some open-source investigators have also claimed that the incident allegedly occurred in Russia, close to Belgorod, not far from the Ukrainian border, and that the jet struck a power pole. Although, the claim has not been verified.
The first-person film is thought to have been shot over the summer but was not made public until now. It is unknown whether the aircraft was shot out of the sky by Ukrainian air defense systems or whether it crashed for some other reason.
Regardless, the video is noteworthy because it is believed to be the first ejection captured by a pilot using an action camera. It is probably also the first recording of its kind to emanate from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The Su-25 armored attack aircraft is intended to offer air support in the fighting zone day and night under target visibility parameters and eliminate objects with specific coordinates.
Twenty-six Russian Su-25s have been lost, by far the most of any fixed-wing tactical jet type, according to Oryx, an independent analyst who strictly counts visually documented losses of Russian weaponry throughout the fight.
The aircraft was developed in the 1970s. The Russian Sukhoi Design Bureau initiated a program in 2001 to modify the Su-25 into an upgraded version of the Su-25SM attack aircraft.
This upgraded aircraft completed its initial flight on March 5, 2002, and was put into service in 2007. The new aircraft model with a more extensive arsenal and an airborne radar station can operate more effectively.
New combat modes on this aircraft enable the use of guided air-to-surface missiles while in horizontal flight by deploying precise software-corrected target tracking.
The Russian Air Force briefly grounded its Su-25 aircraft in August 2010 to look into an incident that happened on August 6, 2010. The aircraft was engaged in training missions when it crashed 60 kilometers northwest of Step Airport in Siberia.
In November 2010, the Ulan-Ude aviation plant (UUAZ) decided to restart Su-25 manufacturing after receiving orders from the Russian Defense Ministry and the United Aircraft Building Corporation.
The Su-25 aircraft of the Russian Air Force is propelled by two 44.18kN Soyuz/Gavrilov R-195s turbojet engines. The ten pylons on the wings carry the various air-to-air and air-to-ground armament systems chosen for the mission.
The aircraft is capable of using three types of air-to-ground missiles: the Kh-23 (NATO designation AS-7 Kerry), Kh-25ML (AS-10 Karen), and Kh-29l (AS-14 Kedge).
Russia also whittled down its Su-25UB combat trainer to create the Su-28, a training aircraft for the Russian Air Force. The adjustments involved downsizing the equipment and removing some armaments.
In June 1989, a test flight was used to display the aircraft.