Incredible footage has captured the moment a Ukrainian drone cheekily managed to avoid being shot down by not one, not two… but three Russian military aircraft.
A video shared by the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine shows the drone coming into close contact with two Russian combat helicopters and one jet.
What then follows is the ultimate game of cat and mouse between the heavily fortified aircraft and the tiny drone.
It can be seen almost teasing the Russian air forces just metres away before one of the aircraft unleashes a spray of bullets towards it.
The rounds whizz past the drone, coming within a whisker of wiping it out in the skies above annexed Crimea.
But the Russian pilots ultimately fail in shooting down their small target as it dodges their fire by moving side to side and up and down.
After the close call, Ukrainian forces say the drone was able to safely return to base without a scratch.
It’s not known exactly when the encounter happened but Ukrainian officials released the footage today, suggesting the incident took place recently.
A spokesman for Ukraine’s defence ministry said their UAVs – unmanned aerial vehicles – are ‘increasingly coming out unscathed, not only after encounters with Russian air defence, but also in direct collisions with Russian aircraft’.
They said: ‘The video shows a Ukrainian UAV flying near Cape Tarkhankut being pursued by two combat helicopters and one airplane.
‘Despite the continuous fire, our UAV left the “battlefield” unharmed and successfully returned to the base.’
Upon arriving back from its perilous flight, the UAV operator reportedly called the Russians ‘some kind of crooked…’.
Ukraine has ramped up its use of drones in the last few weeks with a barrage of attacks on Russia.
The number of drone strikes hitting Russian territory since Vladimir Putin launched an invasion in February last year has topped 500.
Putin arguably suffered his worst night yet on Tuesday after the ‘biggest strike of the war’ blasted military planes in an attack on an airbase in the Pskov region.
Four Russian military planes were reportedly damaged as around 10 to 20 drones rained down on an airport near the border with Estonia and Latvia.
Kyiv claims that 16 of its drones destroyed four Su-30 fighter jets, one MiG-29 fighter jet, two Pantsir-S1 close-range air defence systems and a radar linked to a long-range S-300 surface-to-air missile system.
It says it carried out the attack using £2,750 flat-pack cardboard drones.
Further drones were shot down over Oryol, Bryansk, Ryazan, Kaluga and the Moscow region, according to Russia’s defence ministry.
Among the other targets hit in the last few days were two buildings in Kurchatov, in the Kursk region, which is also home to a nuclear plant.
The attack caused flights to be halted over Moscow and a Ukrainian armed forces spokesman said: ‘According to our information, such drones are invisible to enemy radars.
‘As the test showed, after the explosion, the striking elements cover a rather large area, sufficient to damage even a large aircraft.’
Last weekend, a Russian officer was reportedly blown up by a drone while mowing the lawn in his garden near Ukraine’s border while on his day off.
Alexei Chernykh is said to have died after a drone dropped a bomb onto his property in the village of Schetinovka.
Nighttime attacks on the Russian capital have been a common occurrence and just last week a skyscraper in the city centre was struck by a drone, sparking a huge explosion.
The high rise building was badly damage after flames tore through the structure with smoke billowing out.
On Thursday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said his country had developed a weapon that hit a target 400 miles away, apparently referencing the air base attack.
He described the weapon as being produced by Ukraine’s ministry of strategic industries but gave no other details.
The Kremlin’s forces have also targeted Ukraine with numerous salvos of Iranian-made exploding drones in the war over the past year.
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