A MiG-29 fighter jet, allegedly owned by Russian state-sponsored private military contractors, has been shot down in Libya.
A video that recently appeared on social media purportedly shows a Russian-speaking pilot after their aircraft went down in Libya who is about to be picked up by an Mi-24 Hind gunship helicopter.
The clip shows a white-and-orange parachute on the ground, along with other equipment, including a helmet often worn by pilots of Soviet-era and more modern Russian combat jets, suggesting that they bailed out of just such an aircraft.
This comes months after the U.S. military first said that Russian pilots were flying MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters and Su-24 Fencer combat jets in support of rogue Libyan general Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army.
In the two-minute video, which is undated, but appears to have first emerged online on Sept. 7, 2020, the pilot filming speaks Russian as he pans across the deployed parachute, flying helmet, a radio beacon with antenna, and other items arranged on the ground in a rock-strewn desert landscape.
He mentions that he ejected from his aircraft. There is then a break in the video before filming resumes to reveal an approaching Hind helicopter, which may be arriving to retrieve him.
There is no visible wreckage to give any clues as to the type of aircraft the pilot was flying, however, and they do not say whether they were shot down or experienced some kind of in-flight emergency that forced them to eject. There is also the possibility that this footage could be from some sort of combat search and rescue exercise.
The 14 MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets and Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer bombers delivered by Russia to Libya in May.
In May, these warplanes flew from Russia and made a stopover in Iran’s eastern Hamedan airbase. They then flew on to Russia’s Khmeimim airbase in western Syria, where social media photographs clearly showed that they were unmarked. Russian Air Force jets then escorted them to Al-Jufra airbase in Libya, which is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA) group led by General Khalifa Haftar.