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Downed fighter pilot’s wingman stood by leader to very end — army media

February 07, 14:21 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The wingman of the second Sukhoi-25 jet who accompanied Major Roman Filipov, downed by a terrorist-fired missile in Syria, kept defending his downed leader in the air and on the ground

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Flowers in memory of Sukhoi Su-25 jet aircraft pilot Roman Filipov

Flowers in memory of Sukhoi Su-25 jet aircraft pilot Roman Filipov

© Artiom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, February 7. /TASS/. The wingman of the second Sukhoi-25 jet who accompanied Major Roman Filipov, downed by a terrorist-fired missile while flying a patrol mission in Syria, kept defending his downed leader in the air and on the ground, when his commander was already engaged in a firefight with approaching terrorists. He combed the area as long as there was enough fuel in the tanks and hit at least two of the terrorists’ motor vehicles speeding to the scene, as follows from the pilot’s interview with the Russian army daily Krasnaya Zvezda.

On February 3, two Russian jets were patrolling the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria. Major Roman Filipov was the leader. The militants reportedly shot down his plane with a man-portable missile, which hit the starboard engine. The portside power plant failed a moment later. Filipov ejected himself and fought the approaching terrorists on the ground. After being seriously wounded he blew up himself with a hand grenade.

"His voice was firm when I warned him: ‘You’re under attack. Evasive action! Keep pitching! Keep maneuvering!’" "I can see that," Filipov replied. Then went on quite calmly, as if he was talking about something very routine, of secondary importance. ‘I’ve been hit…’ And then added, ‘Real hard… The right engine’s on fire... Trying to head south… The left one is about to die…’ About 20 seconds later, there was the emergency message: "Call the CSAR… (Combat Search and Rescue team)," Filipov’s wingman said.

The commander then ordered his subordinate to escape into the clouds, but the wingman went on attacking the terrorists trying to fend them off.

"I’d always defended my commander in the air. I had to try to protect him when he was already fighting on the ground. I stayed over the area and carried out several attacks. I hit the vehicles that were approaching the olive grove where Roman was situated. I destroyed two vehicles," the pilot said. "Also, I kept radioing the coordinates to the command post and calling the rescue service. I could see the place where my commander landed, but not the firefight itself, as dusk was about to set in… Then I had to leave. The emergency fuel reserve was just enough to make it to the airfield…"

Major Roman Filipov was posthumously awarded the title of the Hero of Russia. He was a top class pilot having a flight record of 1,300 hours and 80 combat sorties under his belt. This was his second assignment in Syria.

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