I have recently reported on the proliferation of shoulder-fired SAMs among separatist forces in Ukraine, but I have yet to hear of any hard figures as to how many Ukrainian aircraft have been lost as a result, although I think the number is probably well into double digit territory.
Check out this video of Marines training in Yuma on how to employ America's FIM-92 "Stinger" MANPADS against a Russian designed Mi-24 attack chopper and an AN-2 biplane, and yes the DoD contracts all types of civilian-owned foreign gear to be used for threat representation duties, they own a bunch of it as well:
Seeing as Ukraine has an abundance of derelict Soviet-era airframes, but a shortage of ones that are actually in flyable condition, these downed aircraft and their parts are not to be just thrown away or demolished if recovering them is at all possible. The Mi-24 Hind, which is one of the most relevant aircraft Ukraine has for fighting heavily armed separatist forces, is in short supply, as there was said to have been less than three dozen of the attack choppers in active inventory before the conflict erupted and multiple airframes have been downed since. Hence these photographs that were captured by a driver in Eastern Ukraine depicting an Army truck towing a stricken Mi-24 Hind attack chopper that was said to have been downed by a separatist-fired MANPADS.
Keep in mind that MANPADS have small warheads and some are proximity fused and made to fragment so that a direct hit is not necessary to disable an enemy aircraft. So just one piece of shrapnel that hits in the right place, often referred to as "the golden BB," can down an aircraft. In this case you can actually see in the video below the place where the Hind was struck as it has a huge hole where its tail boom begins to extend out from its fuselage. Older generation Russian-made MANPADS are quite known for hitting a distance back of the heat source which makes the location of the damage interesting. Also, this Hind, bort number "yellow 10," has been seen and photographed operating against pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine for many weeks before it was downed.
Also notice the bright white "invasion stripes" on the aircraft's tail. Made popular on D-Day, these stripes were rattle-canned onto Ukrainian aircraft so that they could be differentiated from similar Russian aircraft operating to the South and East of country, or within it should a full on invasion take place.
The Mi-24 has an empty weight of about 18,000lbs, which makes it one serious load to tow over a long distance, not to mention it is a giant target that pro-Russian forces have already tried to destroy once. Can any Jalopniks identify the truck that is towing the hind? Maybe one of Ukraine's indigenous Kraz built trucks?
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer that maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com