Ukrainian Su-27UB Flanker Crashes, Reportedly Killing Ukrainian and U.S. Pilots Onboard

Introduction — Oct 17, 2018

The crash occurred in Ukraine yesterday during a training flight that crashed and killed the Ukrainian and U.S. pilots. Right now their are nearly 1,000 personnel from NATO countries taking part in training drills with the Ukrainian Air Force.
The crash comes amid mounting tensions between Russia and the West with NATO forces steadily advancing towards Russia’s border.
How would Americans feel if nearly 1,000 Russian, Chinese and Iranian air force personnel were to take part in drills with the Mexican Air Force near the U.S. border? Ed.
Su-27UB. Click to enlarge

Su-27UB. Click to enlarge

Ukrainian Su-27UB Flanker Crashes, Reportedly Killing Ukrainian and U.S. Pilots Onboard (Updated)

Tyler Rogoway and Joseph Trevithick — The War Zone Oct 16, 2018

Details about the mishap are still limited, but a Su-27UB Flanker combat jet from Ukraine’s Air Force has crashed in that country, killing its Ukrainian pilot, as well as reportedly a member of the U.S. Air National Guard. The jet had been flying a training sortie as part of Exercise Clear Sky 2018, which began on Oct. 8, 2018.

The accident occurred at around 5:00 PM local time on Oct. 16, 2018, near the village of Ulaniv, which is situated approximately 185 miles southwest of the Ukranian capital Kiev. Ukraine’s military immediately launched a search and rescue operation that unfortunately found that there were no survivors of the crash.

“We regret to inform that, according to a report by the search and rescue team, the bodies of two pilots were found,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement on social media on Oct. 16, 2018. “One is a Ukrainian air force pilot, and the second is a U.S. Air National Guard pilot.”

Neither the Ukrainian nor the U.S. military has identified the American aviator in question or their unit. Confusingly, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has already taken down its post that stated the nationalities of the two individuals onboard the Flanker, raising the possibility that the initial report may have been in error.

However, members of the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing have brought some of their F-15C Eagle fighter jets to join in Exercise Clear Sky 2018, the unit’s first-ever deployment to Ukraine. California’s National Guard is heavily involved in training and other activities with Ukraine’s military broadly through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.

If it’s true that a pilot from the U.S. Air National Guard was in the Su-27 at the time of the crash, it is important to note that it is not uncommon for members of foreign air forces to get a chance to conduct familiarization flights in each others aircraft during multi-national exercises. American military aviators would be particularly interested in riding in a Flanker, a family of fighters that is in widespread service around the world and that the U.S. military could easily find itself facing in any potential large-scale conflict against near-peer opponents, such as Russia or China.

Though we don’t yet know the exact reason why the U.S. pilot was flying in the Flanker, Approximately 950 personnel from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States are taking part in the drills. The stated objective is to improve cooperation between NATO air arms and Ukraine’s air force.

“This is the largest exercise in the last four years. It involves more than 50 aircraft from eight NATO member-states and our planes – of the Ukrainian Air Forces,” Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko said on Oct. 11, 2018. “The purpose of the exercises is to increase the level of interoperability of our combat aircrafts with the air forces of the United States and other member states of the [NATO] Alliance.”