Two Billion Dollars Worth of Smoldering, Twisted Metal

According to Newsweek, Russia has lost two dozen expensive Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker E fighter jets thus far in its war on Ukraine. And by “lost,” I mean Ukrainian forces blew them out of the sky. This is forcing the Russian Air Force to switch over to the older (they had their first flight in 1967) and less sophisticated Sukhoi 24M Fencer bomber aircraft. Oh, when I mentioned the Flanker Es are expensive, they are about $85 million each, according to As a point of reference, our closest US comparison, the F-35, costs anywhere from $79 – $116 million, depending on the model.

Su-35 down in Ukraine
The flaming wreckage of an Su-35 was shot down in Ukraine. Screenshot taken from a YouTube video from CRUX.

Ukrainian Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Department of the General Staff, General Oleksii Hromov, spoke of the downing of the aircraft at a briefing at the Ukraine Ukrinform media center on August 11th. He says, “Over the last week, the Ukrainian Air Force has destroyed 27 air targets. In connection with the significant losses of aviation equipment, the occupiers are considering the option of using outdated bombers, the Su-24M…”

He went on to note that the Russians have provided the Chinese with 24 each of the Su-35 fighter jets, and of those, only nine were fully functional. He commented on how this is a testament to the unreliability of the fighter.

During the briefing noted above, Hromov was quoted as saying, “The Su-35 aircraft has also shown a low level of survivability. During the full-scale aggression, the occupiers have lost two squadrons of such aircraft, that’s about 24 planes.” According to Air Force Magazine, Russian tactical squadrons have 12 aircraft each (plus one or two combat trainers). Long-range bomber squadrons typically have ten aircraft, and helicopter squadrons generally have 20.

Total Russian Losses
Approximate Russian losses in the war in Ukraine for day 177 post-invasion. Image source: Ukrainska Pravda

General Hromov, as reported by Newsweek, has recently stated that the targeting accuracy of Russian aircraft has been poor recently. Apparently, their pilots do not want to be shot down. Reuters has quoted him as saying, “The enemy’s planes and helicopters avoid flying into the range of our air defenses, and therefore the accuracy of these strikes is low.” This is excellent because it means the radar systems and anti-aircraft missiles the Ukrainians have been provided with are doing their jobs.

The video footage shown below purportedly shows a Russian Su-35 that had been shot down in the area of Nova Kakhovka, a city in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine. The Ukrainian Air Force praised the kill and the “excellent work” of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles. In addition, they note that their “ground air defense” brought down the jet.