Did a senior Ukrainian pilot just defect to Russia with his Su-27 fighter loaded with NATO missiles, and electronics?!
Take a look at the viral claims, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Ukrainian Su-27 Pilot Defected To Russia
People are sharing two photos of a Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jet, claiming / suggesting that it was just flown to Russia by a defecting Ukrainian flight commander, fully-loaded with NATO missiles, radar, and electronic warfare equipment.
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No Evidence Ukrainian Su-27 Pilot Defected To Russia!
This appears to be another example of FAKE NEWS / VATNIK PROPAGANDA circulating on X (formerly Twitter), and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : Photos Were Taken At RIAT 1996
First, let me just point out that the claim or suggestion that a Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jet with the tail number 48 just defected to Russia is definitely false.
The two photos of the same Ukrainian Su-27 aircraft with the tail number 48 were not taken recently, or even in Ukraine or Russia.
The photos are of a Ukrainian Su-27S at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) show, was held at RAF Fairfore in Gloucestershire in the UK. They were taken in July 1996 – more than 27 years ago!
The photo above was taken by Mike Freer, who captioned it as a Ukrainian Su-27S “departing RIAT 96”.
The photo below was taken by Peter Fothergill, who took his photo on 19 July 1996, but only uploaded it to the AirFighters website on 1 September 2020.
Fact #2 : No Evidence Of Pilot Defecting With Su-27
Claims that a senior Ukrainian officer or flight commander defected to Russia with a Su-27 fighter jet loaded with NATO missiles and electronics have been circulating on X (formerly Twitter) since 18 November 2023.
However, none of those who posted the news have actually provided any evidence that such a defection took place.
The defection of a senior Ukrainian pilot would have been major news, especially if he flew a Su-27 fighter jet loaded with NATO missiles and electronics to Russia. Yet, Russian news media have not mentioned such a stunning development.
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Fact #3 : Ka-52 Pilot Reported A Pilot Defection
The claims appear to be based on a short report by the Russian state news agency, TASS. On 18 November 2023, TASS reported that a Ukrainian military pilot defected to Russia.
According to Alexey Voyevoda – a Ka-52 helicopter pilot who organised the flight, the pilot is now “consulting with the Federal Security Service”.
You will note that the TASS report never said that it was a senior pilot, or a flight commander. It also never said that the pilot flew to Russia with a Su-27 fighter jet, much less one loaded with NATO missiles or electronics.
Fact #4 : Ka-52 Extraction Is Plausible
The Kamov Ka-52 Alligator (Hokum B) is a two-seater helicopter, seating a pilot and a gunner side-by-side.
While it is not capable of carrying any passengers, it is possible for a Ka-52 pilot like Alexey Voyevoda to fly into Ukraine without a gunner, to extract a defecting Ukrainian pilot.
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