Russian Su-25 Frogfoot Attack Jet Shot Down In Syria (Updated)
Reports state that a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile took the jet down.
Details remain very limited in nature but what is known is that a Russian Su-25 Frogtfoot ground-attack jet was brought down in contested Idlib Province in Syria. It is not fully clear what weapon brought the aircraft down, but some reports state that it was a man-portable air defense system (MANPADS), otherwise known as a shoulder-fired heat-seeking missile.
Images and video are already coming out of Syria, with one image showing what appears to be a Su-25 with an engine on fire, and a video clearly showing the wreckage of a Russian Frogfoot. The aircraft was totally destroyed and reports say that the pilot ejected, although his current status is unknown at the time of publishing.
The Su-25 has served as the backbone of Russia's air campaign over Syria, with roughly half a dozen or more of the type usually taking up residence at Russia's air base located south of Latakia, Syria.
The shoot-down comes two months after President Vladimir Putin declared major combat operations over during a surprise visit to Syria. It also comes following a series of complex attacks on Russia's Syrian air base, one of which was deadly. As such, it seems as if Syria is becoming more dangerous for Russian troops, not less.
MANPADS have been present in Syrian, but not plentiful by any regard. There has been talk of foreign powers possibly inserting the sensitive weapons into the Syrian conflict to help level the playing field against Syrian air power, but this hasn't come to pass. That being said, there has been an uptick in reports of high-end MANPADS being spotted on the Syrian battlefield as of late, along with some supporting video. Still we cannot confirm one of these missiles brought the Russian jet down.
We will update this post as more info comes available.
Update: 8:15am PST—
More video from the crash site:
This is probably the dumbest place to be standing in Syria.
Update: 6:15pm PST–
The aircraft shot down was Su-25SM serial number RF-96486 "Blue 06."
Russia says the pilot of the Su-25 died heroically while fighting terrorists after landing following the ejection from his stricken jet. Images of the pilot's standard issue Stechkin automatic pistol with an empty magazine supposedly supports this statement.
Russian outlet RT also says that a letter of commendation was pulled from the dead pilot's pocket, stating:
"One of the pictures, published on the CIT Facebook page, shows what appears to be a commendation authored by special operations air group commander Lt. Colonel Sergey Aksenov, recommending that a state award be bestowed upon Filippov for completing combat missions in Syria. CIT claims the document was found in the slain pilot's pocket."
Russian officials confirmed that the aircraft was attacked and brought down by a MANPADS. It is worth noting that on February 2nd, just a day before the loss of this Su-25, another Frogtfoot narrowly escaped being shot down by anti-aircraft fire in the same region.
RT also reports that the following group is responsible for the attack:
"Tahrir al-Sham, an extremist group linked to Al-Nusra terrorists, claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier, videos and statements about the Russian pilot appeared on the Twitter account of the Jaysh al-Nasr, a militant group affiliated to the Free Syrian Army."
Moscow says it quickly located those responsible for the shoot-down and launched a "massive precision strike" on a compound they were inhabiting. That counter-strike is shown in the video below. Russia claims 30 fighters were killed in the operation.
Russian media outlet Sputnik inquired with the Pentagon as to the possibility that the U.S. furnished MANPADS to rebel groups in Syria, this was Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon response:
"Alongside by, with, and through our partners in Syria, the United States remains focused on the fight against ISIS.. The US has not equipped any partner forces in Syria with surface-to-air weapons and has no intention to do so in the future. Our operations are geographically focused on ongoing combat operations against ISIS in eastern Syria. We will assess the validity of these claims to ensure the safety of our coalition partners. I refer you to the Russian government for information regarding this incident."
The Sputnik report goes on talking about rumors that the U.S. has supplied MANPADS to Kurdish fighters in Afrin and to other groups in the past. Any major negative news for Russia that occurs in Syria usually results in at least some form of tacit blame or vague allegations of responsibility being placed on the United States by Russian media. This incident appears to be no different, and Russia's hunt for who provided the missile that shot down the Su-25 will be an interesting one follow to say the least.
Frants Klintsevich, first deputy chair of Russia's Federal Council Defense Committee, stated the following earlier today:
"Certainly, we will investigate, including a great many things: from the type of the MANPADS to the circumstances of the Su-25 downing... The loss of one aircraft is nothing, but politically it has great significance and far-reaching consequences... We have information that the MANPADS used to bring down our jet was brought into Syria from a neighboring country several days ago... Countries from whose territory weapons arrive, that are then used against Russian servicemen, must understand that who is will not go unpunished..."
Deputy head of the state Duma Defense Committee, Yury Shvytkin, also added:
"MANPADS' origins are linked with Western countries."
Update: 9:20am PST +1 day—
Video has surfaced that supposedly shows the hit:
This video may show the MANPADS launch:
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com