Top Gun-style video shows Ukrainian fighter jet evading missile lock

Heart-stopping Top Gun-style video shows Ukrainian fighter jet skimming over tree tops in death-defying game of cat-and-mouse with Russian forces as pilot tries to dodge rockets

  • The pilot of the Soviet-era Su-25 was forced to take evasive measures in Donbas
  • Cockpit footage shows the plane quickly tilting left and right and firing off flares
  • Below, fields and forests are shown zooming past as the jet flies at high-speeds
  • Eventually, the pilot was able to escape the reach of the Russian target lock 

This heart-stopping video shows a Ukrainian fighter pilot almost skimming tree tops in a death-defying game of cat-and-mouse to evade rockets fired by Russian forces from the ground.

In the ‘Top Gun’-style cockpit footage, shared on social media, the pilot of the Ukrainian Su-25 attack jet can be seen performing sharp evasive manoeuvres as the forests, roads and fields of the country’s eastern Donbas region zoom past below.

The Soviet-era Su-25 is first seen flying over a road, as what appear to be military vehicles pass underneath.

But the pilot is forced to react quickly when his radar warning system starts blaring – suggesting he is being targeting by Russian missiles – and begins to take drastic evasive manoeuvres to escape a potential strike.

His hands are shown on the joystick, quickly moving left and right, as the plane – at high speed – tilts wildly one way and then the other. The smoke trail of decoy flares are seen being fired from the Su-25 as a countermeasure against the missiles.

This heart-stopping video shows a Ukrainian fighter pilot almost skimming tree tops in a death-defying game of cat-and-mouse to evade rockets fired by Russian forces from the ground

The pilot was flying a Soviet-era Su-25 fighter jet. Pictured: A Su-25 jet flies after an attack on Russian positions in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 10, 2022

At the start of the footage, the ground is shown out of the cockpit windows barely 100ft below. As he fights to escape the impending threat, the pilot dares to get even closer to the ground – with the tips of the plane’s wings almost skimming tree tops.

The smouldering wreckages of destroyed military vehicles and holes in vast green fields caused by shelling are seen in split-second moments as the fighter jet travels over the Donbas battlefield at break-neck speeds.

After around 20 seconds of suspense, the pilot appears to successfully escape before Russian forces could launch a rocket.

Ukraine’s on-going battle for control of its skies has been vital to its ability to repel Vladimir Putin’s invading forces. 

Fighter pilots flying for Ukraine’s air force have shown throughout the conflict they are not afraid to fly close to the ground to avoid Russian missiles.

Several videos shot from the ground have shown dog fights taking place over Ukrainian land, and reports have suggested some Ukrainian pilots have clipped electricity cables, according to The Telegraph.

Before the invasion was launched on February 24, analysts feared the worst for Ukraine should Russia achieve air supremacy.

However, in May Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said his military had shot down its 200th Russian aircraft – a figure few thought possible before the war.

‘Russia has not lost so many aircraft in any war in decades,’ Zelensky said on May 13.

With Russia fearing its aircraft could get shot down, it has been reluctant to fly in the skies over battlefields. As a result, Ukraine’s forces have been able to move far more freely and meet the Kremlin’s troops in combat without fearing aircraft attack.

A lack of air supremacy is one of the many factors said to have prevented the Russian military from seizing Kyiv in the early days of the war, with Putin’s forces since being pushed back and instead focusing on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

A Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-25 releases decoy flares as it provides an air support to Ukrainian troops on the ground during the battle near Yampil, eastern Ukraine, on April 27, 2022

A Ukrainian Su-25 jet flies after an attack on Russian positions in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The region has seen some of the most fierce fighting since the invasion began. 

Ukraine said Thursday it was losing up to 100 soldiers every day in frontline fighting against Russian troops and that as many as 500 were being wounded in battles.

‘The situation at the front lines is difficult. Every day we have up to 100 of our soldiers killed and up to 500 wounded. 

The Kremlin continues to press by sheer mass, stumbles, faces strong resistance and suffers huge casualties,’ Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on social media.

Ukrainian forces continued to fight for the industrial zone and adjacent areas in eastern the city of Sievierodonetsk, which Kyiv holds.

Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said on Thursday that the situation is ‘difficult but manageable’, and Kyiv said Russian forces are now largely in control of the city itself.

He said defence lines were holding despite intense Russian artillery fire but that it was now impossible to evacuate people from Sievierodonetsk. 

He added about 10,000 civilians remained in the city, which is now the main focus of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

The strategic city has become the focus of Russia’s offensive as it seeks to seize an eastern swathe of Ukraine, after being repelled from other parts of the country.   

Western long-range artillery would enable Ukraine to beat back Russian forces and capture Severodonetsk within days, another regional Ukrainian official said Thursday.

‘As soon as we have long-range artillery to be able to conduct duels with Russian artillery, our special forces can clean up the city in two to three days,’ Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in an interview distributed on his official social media channels.

Moscow’s forces are concentrating their firepower on the strategically important industrial hub as part of efforts to capture a swathe of eastern Ukraine.

Smoke and dirt rise from shelling in the city of Severodonetsk during fight between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 7, 2022

A view of a building partly destroyed in a shelling in Saltivka neighbourhood of Kharkiv, June 8

An emergency officer carries out work in wrecked building after shelling amid Russian attacks on Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine on June 9, 2022

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky late Wednesday described the battle as ‘one of the most difficult’ since the start of the war.

‘Severodonetsk remains the epicentre of fighting in the Donbas,’ Zelensky said, referring to the region in eastern Ukraine that includes the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk.

‘It is a very fierce battle, very difficult, probably one of the hardest in the course of this war,’ Zelensky said in his evening address to the nation.

Gaiday said Thursday that Ukrainian forces in the city remained ‘highly motivated’ and that ‘everyone is holding their positions’.

‘Russia is constantly shelling areas controlled by Ukrainians with artillery,’ he added. 

The US and Britain have announced they are providing Kyiv with long-range precision artillery batteries, defying warnings from Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The Lugansk region more broadly was under continued mortar, artillery and rocket attacks, the Ukrainian presidency said.

It said four people were killed and five more wounded in a Russian air strike on Toshkivka, a village around 25 kilometres south of Severodonetsk.

Russia’s offensive is now targeting the Donbas, after its forces were pushed back from Kyiv and other areas following the February 24 invasion.

The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are separated by a river, were the last areas still under Ukrainian control in Lugansk.

Lysychansk remains fully under the control of the Ukrainian army but is under ‘powerful and chaotic’ shelling, Gaiday said, accusing Russian forces of deliberately targeting hospitals and humanitarian aid distribution centres.

‘The destruction is enormous,’ he added.

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