It’s the toughest, most dangerous job in military aviation — close air support.
Just days ago a video emerged of a Russian Su-25 getting hit by 23mm auto cannon fire from the ground while supporting Syrian army offensive into jihadi-held Idlib. In that case the Russian ground attack plane — sometimes nicknamed the ‘Flying Tank’ — shrugged off the damage and flew on.
Today another Su-25 was not that lucky, and was brought down. The pilot ejected immediately, but was captured by rebel Islamists and executed.
It appears that the plane was brought down by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile. Usually a Su-25 attacks in a diving run firing flares all along the way before climbing back to safety. Perhaps it was the heavy overcast which in this instance forced the plane to remain at low altitude throughout.
The Russian Ministry of Defense confirms the loss of its plane over Idlib, but says the pilot was killed fighting the rebels in a defiant last stand on the ground.
Scene of the crash:
A letter commending a certain Roman Nikolayevich Filippov for a state commendation was found on the body of the pilot:
ورقة مكتوبة باللغة الروسية وجدت في جيب الطيار الروسي، اذا حدا قادر يساعد بترجمتها بكون ممنون.
This letter in the Russia|n language has been found in the uniform of the Pilot. Anyone knows what it says? pic.twitter.com/vy3eyvSX70
— Fadi Hussein – فادي (@fadihussein8) February 3, 2018
The Russian paper Novaya Gazeta is reporting the slain pilot was indeed a Roman Filippov from Crimea. He originally flew for the Ukrainian Air Force but as most Ukrainian officers from Crimea crossed over into Russia’s service in 2014.
This is the first fixed-winged aircraft the Russian air force has lost to Syrian rebels since the start of its intervention in September 2015.
Recent Russian-Syrian operations against rebels have been wildly successful. Backed by Russian aviation the Syrian army continues to advance deeper into Idlib every day.