A Ukrainian Air Force (UkrAF)-operated MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter painted in the colours of the air arm's long-disbanded 'Ukrainian Falcons' aerobatic team has been shot down in a friendly fire incident, resulting in the death of its pilot.
The multi-role fighter was destroyed by a Soviet-made but Ukrainian Army-operated 9K33 Osa (SA-8 Gecko) surface-to-air missile (SAM) near the city of Kurakhove in the Donetsk Oblast on January 7. Aerial photographs later showed the wreckage of the fighter on the ground. The aircraft was armed with an US-supplied AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) when it was reportedly mistaken for a fighter belonging to the Russian Aerospace Forces.
The UkrAF's Ukrainian Falcons display team was officially disbanded in 2002 and its six MiG-29s - five single-seat Izdeliye 9-13s (Fulcrum-Cs) and one two-seat MiG-29UB (Fulcrum-B) - were retired and later mothballed. It is understood that after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, the former display jets were recommissioned and made airworthy with the use of spare parts supplied from other nations that operate the Russian-built jet.
While still sporting the same colour scheme of the Ukrainian Falcons display team, the aircraft have been used for combat sorties during the war with Russia. In June 2022, video footage emerged of a MiG-29 parked on a runway and fully armed with missiles, which is believed to be one of the aircraft from the former UkrAF display team.
On October 13, 2022, another MiG-29 sporting the Ukrainian Falcons' colours was lost during a combat mission to intercept Iranian-built Shahed-136 'kamikaze' drones over the Vinnytsia Oblast in western Ukraine.