Drunk driving is stupid, selfish, reckless, and obviously, very dangerous. As stupid as driving under the influence is, it rarely results in any sort of military involvement, and even rarer still, involving fighter jets. Well, one alleged drunk driver in Ukraine got tangled up with a MiG and literally scrambled the jet with his VW van.
Ukrainian jet loses dogfight to a Volkswagen minivan
I don’t know that I have ever thought about how a plane would do against a car in a head-on crash. I honestly didn’t think that really had much of a chance of happening, but this story from Popular Mechanics proves otherwise.
A Ukrainian military officer was allegedly driving under the influence on the military base near Vasilkov, Ukraine, last week when he crashed his VW Touran right smack dap into one of Ukraine’s very few MiGs. In fact, Ukraine has so few of these legendary fighter jets that the crash left the nation’s fleet down four percent.
How do you crash into a fighter jet?
The Ukrainian Captain, who is said to have been drunk at the time, was driving his VW van across the base when the MiG-29 was being towed to its parking spot when the two crossed paths. The VW and the MiG were both destroyed in the accident. The MiG caught fire after the crash and ultimately suffered severe damages, as did the VW. Thankfully, the Captain only suffered minor injuries.
Not that it matters, but what kind of jet are we walking here?
The tail number 8 MiG-29 that got hit was one of only 24 of its kind in Ukraine. If the name “MiG” sounds familiar, there is a good reason. After the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine inherited these MiGs as a holdover from Cold War stockpiles. These planes aren’t exactly spring chickens, but 16 of the 24 are still active, front-line fighter jets for the country. The remaining eight aircraft are used as training tools for Ukrainian airmen.
If the rarity of these fighter jets wasn’t enough to sink the Captian in some hot water, MiG No. 8 was one of the 16 fighters. In fact, Ukraine had recently made an agreement with an Israeli defense contractor to modernize 11 of the 16 MiGs. To get a scope of the value of these crafts, the modernization of each jet was estimated to $40 million per fighter jet. It is unclear whether or not No. 8 was one slated to get modernized.
You thought you had a bad day at work…
To be clear, a MiG doesn’t cost $40 million. In fact, there have been multiple disarmed MiG-29s for sale over the years, and it seems to be that you can snag one for around $5 million or so. These jets caused the U.S. and its allies plenty of problems over the years as these were the main service jets for the Soviet Union and others.
These things are fast and effective pieces of equipment. It may be hard to gauge horsepower, but a MiG-29 can do Mach 2.4, which is somewhere around 1841.45 mph and has a maximum range of 1,100 miles. If that weren’t enough, these two-seaters can also climb to 60,000 feet. So you could spend $5 mil on some limited Lamborghini or a Bugatti or some such… or you can buy a jet that makes the Bugatti look like a tractor.
Needless to say, crashing into one of these things is about as clear a fireable offense as I can imagine. And if the drinking allegations are true, then I think this Captain must have been fired harder than anyone ever.