U.S. F-15 Eagle Driver on What It Is Like Fighting Against Ukraine’s Fighter Pilots
One can quote any number of combat veterans from over the centuries. From Sun Tzu to McArthur. But a lot of it comes down to old-school wisdom. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
There is no harder opponent than a cornered human fighting for home and family.
We were impressed with the Ukrainian fighter pilots from the very outset. They don’t get a lot of flying hours, but they are very good. I’m not surprised at all that they are doing as well as they are against the Russian Air Force,” says Jonathan “Jersey” Burd, a recently-retired U.S. F-15C Eagle pilot who was latterly the chief of exercises and plans with the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing, based in Fresno. “It’s amazing to see how well they are doing, but I’m not surprised.”
…Jersey was the California ANG’s lead planner for the 2018 exercise, and it gave him a clear insight into the Ukrainian Air Force’s abilities. “The goal for Clear Sky 2018 was to open up that aperture to large-force engagements,” explains Jersey, “plus we flew some Basic Fighter Maneuvers [BFM, aka dogfighting], but really it was about everything we do in western-style tactical aviation, and expose the Ukrainians to all of that.” It also gave an opportunity for pilots from both air arms to fly in each other’s fighters.
…“We did plenty of BFM with our F-15Cs against their MiG-29s and Su-27s and to be honest we could tell instantly that their pilots were very good. They are very tactically inventive, they know their airframes and also understand what they are lacking. I mean, they fly old jets. Our F-15s for example are old airframes, but they have been constantly upgraded with new avionics.”
Bonus for those interested. This is from some time ago, long before the Russians invaded. Ukrainian pilots sometimes practice landing & take offs on highways. Can you imagine? One guy hit a road sign… (The video is quite a treat)