Kyiv reports Russian Su-27 fighter jet downed in the Black Sea by friendly fire

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Kyiv reports Russian Su-27 fighter jet downed in the Black Sea by friendly fire

Russian forces downed one of their own Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets over Crimea by accident, according to Kyiv.

A state of heightened “combat readiness” was to blame for the incident over the occupied peninsula on Thursday, Ukraine’s Navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk said on Ukrainian television.

The Moscow-installed leader in Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, had said that a Russian warplane had “crashed” off the Crimean coast without naming the cause and that the pilot ejected safely and was picked up by rescue services.

Russian Telegram channels shared purported footage of the plane which was burning as it fell and a parachute of the ejected pilot.

The Crimean Wind Telegram channel claimed the plane was accidentally shot down by Russia’s own forces after taking off from the Belbek military airfield.

This undated illustrative image shows a Sukhoi Su-27 Airplane. One of the planes belonging to Russia’s forces was shot down in friendly fire on March 28, 2024, according to Ukraine’s military.

Alain Nogues/Getty Images

But Pletenchuk told Ukrainian television on Friday: “We confirm that this aircraft belonged to the Russian Federation and that it was destroyed by their own forces.

“They were on alert, on combat readiness. The human factor was at work—one of the operators was eager to get a medal and didn’t bother to find out whose plane it was,” he added, according to a report of his comments by Ukrainian outlet Pravda.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry about Kyiv’s claims.

Over the last two months, Russia’s Air Force has suffered particularly heavy aircraft losses including more than a dozen warplanes such as Su-34 fighter bombers, Su-35 fighter jets, and a rare A-50 military spy plane.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is anticipating a boost in its own aviation capabilities, announcing that the first F-16 fighter jets supplied by its allies would be in operation within a few months.

Following the U.S. approval for the American-made planes to be used, a coalition of countries has pledged to provide the fourth-generation jets whose technology is a step up from the Soviet-era MiG and Sukhoi jets Kyiv now relies on.

Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder announced on Friday a military assistance package which contains $107 million to maintain and support the jets.

Denmark said Ukraine could receive its F-16 fighter jets “this summer” and The Telegraph estimated that Kyiv may receive as many as 60 of the aircraft.

When asked about Ukraine getting the aircraft from allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that they would be a “legitimate target” for Russian pilots even on “airfields of third countries.”

“We will destroy their planes in the same way that we destroy their tanks,” and other equipment, he said at the 344th Army Aviation Centre in Torzhok, 160 miles northwest of Moscow, although he dismissed speculation that Russia would attack NATO members as “nonsense.”