Military Aviation

Here’s why the ‘Ghost of Kyiv,’ the Ukrainian MiG-29 pilot credited for having shot down 6 Russian jets (2x Su-35s, 1x Su-27, 1x MiG-29M, and 2x Su-25s) is just an Urban Legend

There should be a Ukrainian MiG-29-pilot who have shot down 6 Russian jets yesterday – including 2x Su-35s, 1x Su-27, 1x MiG-29M, and 2x Su-25s – and he’s now nick-named the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’.

An emerging urban legend.

There should be a Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29-pilot who have shot down 6 Russian jets yesterday – including 2x Su-35s, 1x Su-27, 1x MiG-29M, and 2x Su-25s – and he’s now nick-named the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’.

I consider this for an urban legend in the making – and that for multiple reasons, roughly along the following lines:

– For a MiG-29 to score that many kills, it would have to carry lots of AAMs, too. Just for example, the MiG-29 captured on 2-3 videos over Kyiv yesterday was carrying drop tanks (see attached screen-caps), but no visible AAMs;

– MiG-29 can carry a maximum of 6 air-to-air missiles; missiles in service with the Ukrainian air force are such like R-27R (SARH, medium range, R-27T (IRH, medium range), and R-73 (IRH, short-range). Both types are well-known even to the CIA since Adolf Tolkachev’s treachery of 1979-1985 (i.e. before they entered service); both are in service with the Russian Air-Space Force, too, and thus well-known to the Russians. They have certainly developed effective countermeasures already long ago. Countermeasures – like flares, of which we’ve seen a lot on diverse videos yesterday – can be highly effective against IR-homing missiles, just for example, greatly decreasing the chance of them scoring a hit, and thus a kill.

– Therefore, for one Ukrainian MiG-29 to score that many kills, it would have to fly several sorties; we’ve seen some videos of some 6-7 Ukrainian MiG-29s airborne yesterday, but I doubt this is enough for one of them to score all the 6 kills.

– Moreover, I followed related discussions in the social media, and saw how people were adding 1-2 kills with every ‘new round’.

– There is no indication the VKS has deployed any kind of MiG-29s in this war. MiG-29 is on the way out of service in Russia and operated only by two training assets. The one that ‘opened fire at civilians’ (see the video HERE), was an Ukrainian example, and it ‘fired at civilians’ simply because it was targeting VKS helicopters flying low over a village (helicopters in question were BEHIND the position from which this video was taken) – with S-8 rockets fired from B-8M pods.

– At least two of claims I’ve heard about were against VKS helicopters underway to Antonov/Gostomel/Hostomel IAP, not for any jet fighters;

– Under the given circumstances, it’s extremely unlikely that a single Ukrainian MiG-29 has scored all the known aerial victories, plus victories actually credited to the Ukrainian air defences (like the Su-27 known to have been shot down over downtown Kyiv early in the morning);

– And, finally, and as should be known, I do not consider any kind of claims for ‘confirmed’ until both pilots and both serial numbers of their aircraft are known. In this case, absolutely nothing is known about this ‘Ghost of Kyiv’.

Overall, sorry to spoil the celebrations: insisting on evidence and facts is often making me a ‘party crusher’.

But mind you: nobody is complaining about the Ukrainians or bashing them. 

I’m simply explaining why all the nonsense circulated about the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ around the social media is just nonsense.

Check out Helion & Company website for books featuring interesting stories written by The Aviation Geek Club contributor Tom Cooper.

Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper is an Austrian aerial warfare analyst and historian. Following a career in the worldwide transportation business – during which he established a network of contacts in the Middle East and Africa – he moved into narrow-focus analysis and writing on small, little-known air forces and conflicts, about which he has collected extensive archives. This has resulted in specialisation in Middle Eastern, African and Asian air forces. As well as authoring and co-authoring 560 books and over 1,000 articles, he has co-authored the Arab MiGs book series – a six-volume, in-depth analysis of the Arab air forces at war with Israel, in the 1955–73 period. Cooper has been working as editor of the five @War series since 2017.

Recent Posts

That time Thunderbirds delayed their display because they were scared by an SR-71 doing a low-level fly by in afterburner above their F-16s

The Blackbird The SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft was the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft and the most… Read More

6 hours ago

C-130 crew members explain why they didn’t carry parachutes to abandon the Hercules in flight

The ejection seat In aircraft, an ejection seat is a system designed to rescue the… Read More

2 days ago

Iconic USMC AV-8B Harrier jump jet flies final public performance at Cherry Point Air Show

AV-8B Harrier jump jet flies final public performance On May 11 and 12, 2024, Marine… Read More

2 days ago