A Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 that was forced to land in Romania last week is airborne again and returning to Ukraine.
This was confirmed by the Romanian Air Force, who said the Su-27 exited the Romanian airspace on March 1 escorted by two Romanian MiG-21 Lancers.
When it was landing at the Romanian 95th Air Base Captain Alexandru Șerbănescu on February 24, on the first day of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, the Su-27 was intercepted by two F-16 Fighting Falcons in Romanian service.
Another notable difference in the fighter’s arrival and departure is the absence of missiles and rockets on its fuselage on the return leg of the trip. As noted by the Romanian Air Force, the Su-27 took off from Romania unarmed, while it appeared to be fully loaded in a photograph that reportedly showed the jet after landing in Romania.
The Romanian defense ministry did not provide information on what will happen with the armament now that the fighter has left the country. It was noted that the fighter returned home at the request of Ukrainian authorities.
Another question that has remained unanswered is why the jet was forced to make the risky maneuver of landing in Romania in the first place. One of the factors that may have prompted this move was the reported destruction of Ukrainian airfields by Russia on the first day of the fighting. Unconfirmed reports said the fighter may have even been running away from two Russian fighter aircraft chasing it.
The Su-27 is returning to Ukraine as war in the country slowly approaches its seventh day. The brunt of Russian forces invading Ukraine is focused on Kharkiv, while a massive military convoy stretching for 40 miles has been spotted approaching Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. According to imagery shared by Maxar technologies, the convoy is accompanied by 15,000 troops and could indicate Russian preparations for a siege of Kyiv. What is also notable is that the convoy has so far not been engaged by Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles that have been effective in several operations since the start of the war.