Most prominent Russian media outlets are reporting an alleged defection by a Ukrainian pilot commanding a Su-27 flight to Russia. The specifics of when this transpired remain unclear, but the claim made waves across Russian media on November 18. As of yet, there’s been no official confirmation of these claims from Russian authorities.
A contributor to Lenta.ru, identified as the Russian pilot of a Ka-52 Alligator helicopter with the call sign “Voivode,” is reportedly the source of this information. Voivode shared this on a Telegram channel on November 18, describing the situation metaphorically as a “bird in a nest”. Per Russian reports, Voivode appears to be a key player in orchestrating the alleged operation of directing the Ukrainian pilot to fly his Su-27 to Russia.
The accounts differ henceforth. Information from Lenta.ru suggests “it’s plausible that the Ukrainian pilot made his way to Russia solo with his Su-27”, implying the pilot could have arrived unassisted, without his combat aircraft.
Conversely, Topwar.ru proclaims that the Ukrainian officer navigated his Su-27 across the entire front line, ultimately touching down at a Russian airport. As the report goes, “an Air Force officer of the Kyiv regime employed a Su-27 fighter jet to make a daring getaway from Ukraine, skillfully crossing the front line and landing at one of Russia’s airports,” as noted in the Russian publication.
Ukraine defined the information spread in the Russian media as false. And if, unlike Russia, there is still no official confirmation of the news from a high management level, then in Ukraine the information was determined to be false by the Main Directorate of Intelligence [GUR] of the Ministry of Defense.
Thus, in a comment for UNIAN, the representative of the GUR of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Andriy Yusov noted that the relevant information in the Russian media is “primitive and outdated IPSO at the level of a drunk Medvedev”.
The pilot interview coming soon
According to Kiril Fedorov, a reputable blogger and analyst, a comprehensive interview with a Ukrainian pilot is soon to be released. This anticipated discussion promises to provide deeper insights into the pilot’s role and activities within the ranks of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
Interestingly, this is concurrent with the presumption that Russian special services are presently engaged with the Ukrainian Air Force officer who has defected to Russia. Topwar.ru reports that due to such interactions, the impending interview, which was initially publicized by assorted Telegram channels, has been momentarily delayed. This theory has garnered support from Daniil Bezsonov, a former minister of information for the DPR and a military expert.
Significantly, it was Bezsonov who proposed the notion that the escaped pilot had been secretly collaborating with the Russian military right from the onset of war in Ukraine, passing on invaluable information.
A year and a half
Reports from Russia suggest that the Su-27 pilot from the Ukrainian Air Force, who recently defected, had long-standing ties with the Russian authorities before his defection. These revelations primarily come from Daniil Bezsonov, a former Minister of Information in DPR and currently serving as its governor.
As per the governor’s statement, the pilot commenced his activity with the Russian military forces following the onset of a special military operation in Ukraine, offering significant informational support to the Russians. While crucial details remain under wraps for now, the identity of the pilot continues to be a mystery.
Secrets on display
Retired Major General Vladimir Popov, a former military pilot, has shed light on the sort of information that a past pilot from Ukraine’s armed forces may have conveyed. He suggests that such an individual may possess knowledge about the locations of airports, including alternate ones where they would have landed. Additionally, this knowledge could extend to understanding their present condition and the magnitude of aviation equipment at their disposal.
Beyond this, the pilot has the potential to relay to Russia data about the protective covering of adversary aircraft, the functionality of radio equipment, and the specific entities they liaise with while executing tasks. Popov also emphasizes the significance of the intel regarding the psychological and emotional state of the personnel from units the pilot had interacted with.
Pilot and pilot-in-command differences
The pilot-in-command of a fighter flight typically possesses a broader understanding of the overall mission objectives and strategic considerations. They are responsible for coordinating the actions of multiple fighter pilots and ensuring that the mission is executed effectively. This includes knowledge of the enemy’s capabilities, the location of friendly forces, and any specific instructions or restrictions that need to be followed during the mission.
In addition to mission planning and coordination, the pilot-in-command also has a deeper understanding of the aircraft’s systems and capabilities. They are trained to handle various emergency situations and have a comprehensive knowledge of the aircraft’s performance envelope.
Furthermore, the pilot-in-command is responsible for managing the overall situational awareness of the flight. They have access to a wider range of information sources, including radar data, intelligence reports, and communications from other friendly units.
Finally, the pilot-in-command also possesses a higher level of experience and training compared to the individual fighter pilots. They have undergone extensive leadership training and have accumulated a significant number of flight hours.
The Russian authorities have put forth an announcement claiming that a Ukrainian pilot has defected to their side. This might be unofficial or even inaccurate, yet it’s significant because it’s the first such message since the onset of the war on February 24, 2022.
Supposing the statement from the Russian serviceman who allegedly coordinated the operation holds true, this could be perceived as a counterstrike against the Ukrainian special operations, which previously enabled a Russian army pilot to flee.
Let’s not forget, the Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine supposedly did so in the company of unsuspecting crew members. These Russian servicemen later met their end engaging in their ultimate combat behind enemy lines.