Drunken Ukrainian Air Force Officer Smashed His Volkswagen Into A MiG-29 Fighter
The flight line collision left the jet with substantial damage and the driver injured.
Pictures have emerged on social media reportedly showing the aftermath of a collision earlier this week between a Volkswagen Touran and a Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum. A drunken Ukrainian Air Force officer was at the wheel when the accident occurred, which sparked a fire and caused significant damage to the fighter jet.
The Ukrainian Air Force's Air Command Central publicly announced the basic details of the incident shortly after it happened on March 10, 2021, but images showing the damaged MiG-29 and Touran only emerged online today. The accident took place at Vasylkiv Air Base in central Ukraine, which is home to both the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade, to which the Fulcrum belonged, as well as the headquarters of Air Command Central.
The MiG-29 was being towed at the time of the accident and there was no pilot on board, according to an official statement on Facebook, seen in its original Ukrainian below. The driver suffered injuries, but was in a "satisfactory" condition after receiving first aid. An investigation was immediately launched into the incident.
Law enforcement authorities have since disclosed that the Touran was the personal vehicle of a 47-year-old Ukrainian Air Force Captain, whose name does appear to have been released, that was under the influence of alcohol when the accident took place. A new criminal investigation has now been opened into the incident.
The pictures reportedly from the scene of the accident that have now appeared on social media, see earlier on in this story and below, align well with official statements that the Touran slammed into the rear of the MiG-29 as it was being towed along the taxiway. The fighter jet's right engine exhaust nozzle, as well as the tail fin and rear stabilizer on that side of the aircraft, look to have sustained significant damage. There is charring elsewhere on the rear of the aircraft from the subsequent fire.
The pictures of the Touran show substantial damage to its front end, which is also consistent with reports that the driver sustained injuries to his face and chest.
How long it might take to repair the MiG-29 and return it to service now is unclear. There are unconfirmed reports that the aircraft has been determined to be a total loss, which seems quite likely.
The Ukrainian Air Force presently has around 35 MiG-29s in service, including a number of two-seat trainer variants, which, along with a similarly sized force of Su-27 Flankers, form the backbone of the country's combat aviation capabilities. The country has been in the process of upgrading these aircraft with new and improved radars, defensive systems, navigation suites, and avionics in recent years as part of a two-step modernization effort.
Alcohol, as well as drug abuse, is hardly a new issue within the Ukrainian military, as well as the rest of the country, at large. These issues have reportedly been exacerbated by increased conscription to meet the demands of the simmering conflict with separatists, backed by actual elements of the Russian military, in the eastern portion of the country.
Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Gordon said one individual fighting in a pro-Ukrainian government volunteer unit in 2014 had told him that "our first enemy is separatists and Russian mercenaries, the second one is Ukrainian high command, the third one is alcohol, it is almost impossible to fight against it." One government advisor described individuals mobilized during the initial phase of the war in 2014-2015 as "alcoholics and [draft] dodgers, drug addicts and morons," according to John Andrew's 2016 book The World in Conflict: Understanding the World's Troublespots.
There were also sensational reports in 2015 about at least one Ukrainian unit resorting to using a metal cage as an open-air drunk tank to discipline its soldiers.
Ukraine, of course, isn't the only country to be faced with substance abuse issues within its military. Last October, a video emerged on social media showing drunken Russian troops driving a BMP-3 armored fighting vehicle through a concrete wall along the perimeter of an airport. In 2018, a member of the Virginia Army National Guard went on a drug-fueled joyride in an M577 armored command vehicle, ultimately leading to a bizarre police chase. That individual, former Lieutenant Joshua Philip Yabut, was subsequently found not guilty of various charges by reason of insanity.
What charges, and subsequent punishments, might await the Ukrainian Air Force Captain who slammed his Touran into this MiG-29 remain to be seen, as does the final fate of the aircraft itself.
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