Sunday, 1 October, 2023

Ukraine names air force pilots killed in fighter jet crash

Ukraine on Sunday named all three air force pilots killed in a mid-air collision as leading figures paid tribute to well-known fighter ace "Juice" killed in the crash.

The crash involving two combat training aircraft on Friday marks a painful blow for Kyiv, which has been looking to secure advanced F-16 jets to modernise its Soviet-era air force.

The 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade on Sunday named the three dead as Major Vyacheslav Minka, Major Sergiy Prokazin, and Captain Andrii Pilshchykov -- better known by his call-sign "Juice".

"(Pilshchykov) was courageous, principled, uncompromising, actively spoke in the Western media, in particular on the issue of providing Ukraine with modern F-16 aircraft," his brigade said.

"Each of them was involved in air operations for the defence of Ukraine since the start of Russia's full-scale aggression, including tactical tasks in the east and in Zaporizhzhia region," it said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky led tributes to the crash victims in an address Saturday, praising them as defenders of "Ukraine's free sky" and vowing an investigation into what happened.Zelensky has been petitioning Western leaders to deliver F-16s, which Ukraine argues are needed to defend its skies and retake ground as it struggles to make headway in its counteroffensive.

Ukraine on Sunday said it shot down four cruise missiles in the north and central regions during another Russian air raid overnight.

The head of Kyiv's regional military administration, Ruslan Kravchenko, said falling missile fragments had injured two people and damaged ten homes.