Ukraine Situation Report: Russian Su-25 Belly Landing Caught On Video

A Russian pilot needs a new jet and probably a new flight suit after a sparky, gear-up emergency landing at an unknown air base.

The Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft, made synonymous with the air war in numerous stunning videos of its high-speed, low-altitude missions flown by both sides’ pilots over the frontlines, comes in low and slow before skidding to a stop on the runway in a shower of sparks with the help of drogue chutes. The undated video posted to the Russian “Fighterbomber” Telegram channel reportedly occurred at an unknown Russian base. 

It’s unclear whether this Frogfoot — emblazoned with the Russian “Z” identifier on its vertical stabilizer, which puts the video in the Ukraine war time-frame – suffered battle damage or some sort of mechanical failure that led to the emergency landing. A hit from anti-aircraft-artillery (AAA) or shrapnel from a missile could have kept its gear from extending, or an aging jet nearly 10 months into the war could have broken under the strain of combat sorties. The latter possibility isn’t new. Russia’s Su-25 fleet, which have taken the brunt of the war’s fixed-wing losses, has been hard-ridden since the invasion began. Another crash, this one on takeoff, and possibly from the same base, was rumored to be due to these factors. You can read more about that incident here.

Before going into the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up on our previous rolling coverage here.


Today’s intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense noted continued cooperation between Russia and Iran, the British predicting that Iranian support will grow in the coming months in exchange for “an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their defense relationship.” 

Yesterday we wrote about the deepening relationship between Moscow and Tehran in the context of future Su-35 Flanker-E deliveries and more, which you can read about here

Here are the latest control maps from the Institute for the Study of War (@TheStudyofWar ). 

After high-profile Ukrainian attacks on Russian airfields last week, at least one air base has decided to disperse its aircraft in case of attack. Satellite imagery showed that after Ukrainian strikes on Engels-2, Dyagilevo, and Kursk airfields, aircraft at Yeysk Naval Air Station were more spread out across the flight line. 

In its Cold War heyday, Yeysk served as a training base for Soviet Air Force pilots in the North Caucasus Military District. Today, Yeysk is on the frontline immediately across the Sea of Azov from Mariupol, and much closer to the threat of Ukrainian attacks than either bomber base struck this week. You can read more about this important base in this past article of ours.

As our friend Evergreen Intel (@vcdgf555 ) pointed out, only now making an effort to disperse aircraft is like closing the barn door after the horse is out. The crispy wreckage at Saki Air Base and previous long-range drone attacks come to mind. 

Speaking of which, large explosions were reported near the occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine along with nighttime air defense activity over Crimea. Reports attributed the Melitopol blasts to a Ukrainian HIMARS strike with numerous secondary explosions. Based on where the frontline stands today, it appears the city is just within HIMARS’ range.

Time and daylight will eventually fully reveal what lit up the Melitopol night sky, but it’s worth noting that the city would be a key objective for any Ukrainian offensive south of Zaporizhzhia. Early indications are that the strike targeted a Russian barracks, with reported heavy casualties among its occupants.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story today on the unique and problematic maintenance needs for NATO-supplied equipment, particularly the German PzH2000 155mm self-propelled howitzers. It just goes to show that for every weapon system, there’s a logistical need that must be met to keep it combat-capable for any length of time. 

The hard truth is that Ukraine is now fielding the most diverse arsenal on earth and sustaining such a patchwork of systems, many from different countries, with different logistics tails, and in different stages of their service lives. Keeping this arsenal operational is a task that is bewildering to comprehend in peacetime, let alone when your country is being invaded. Many of the systems are bound to be cannibalized or sidelined for need of repair not long after their introduction due to these factors.

We’ve written at length about the impact those NATO 155mm caliber self-propelled guns have on the battlefield, particularly their accuracy, firepower, and survivability compared to their Soviet-designed counterparts. Video from the frontlines near Bakhmut shows one such older system, the 2S1 122mm self-propelled howitzer, in Ukrainian service. 

There’s also the inherent value in being able to quickly move and traverse the downright sloppy terrain of saturated Ukrainian territory, something this towed M777 howitzer clearly had a tough time of. A Ukrainian T-80BV can be seen trying to help flip the gun back on its wheels. 

The Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed a kill on a modern Russian 9K37M3 Buk-M3 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system near the town of Vesele in occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast. 

It’s not clear what Ukraine used to take out this particular transporter-erector-launcher-and-radar (TELAR), but an anti-radiation missile like the AGM-88 HARM can’t be ruled out.

To briefly follow-up on our reporting of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest nuclear saber rattling, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated warnings that the risk of “full-blown war” between NATO and Russia remains “a real possibility.” Just in case anyone needed another reason to sleep lighter these days. 

Russia is reportedly testing a small “Kamikaze” drone designed to attack infantry and other drones in a video posted to Telegram. It’s further reported to be cheap enough to mass produce, but the video doesn’t show enough detail beyond that the quad-copter has a small warhead that barely knocked the snow off its BTR target hulk.

Additionally, it appears Russian infantry instructors are taking the threat of drone-dropped munitions seriously, sort of. The video speaks for itself, with the soldier allegedly demonstrating the proper technique to roll away from the dropped grenade or mortar.

We will continue to update this story until we state otherwise.

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