Combat Approved

The Swifts & The Russian Knights, Half a Century Combined. Behind incredible air stunts by MiG-29s & Su-27s

Meet two legendary Russian aerobatic teams: The Swifts (or Strizhi) and The Russian Knights, famous for their hair-raising manoeuvres for air show crowds all around the world. They show you what it takes to perform all crazy high-speed dead loops, twists and rolls in combat-ready jet fighters.

The highlight of their displays is called the Kubinka Diamond, a joint formation exercise with both teams flying in perfect synchronicity. Five Knights and four Swifts come together in a tight diamond with their wingtip almost touching at speeds of up to 800 km/h. The performance is honed to perfection, with the pilots all too keenly aware that there's no room for error at such high speed and close aerial proximity.

We go behind the scenes for the aces’ training routine at Kubinka airfield in the Moscow region, where both teams are stationed. This is a rare chance to see the Swifts and the Russian Knights from the ground and with a pilots’ eye thanks to cameras installed in the cockpits.

Tune in to Combat Approved to learn what it means to ‘walk the flight’ and discover the difference between Russia's aerobatic teams and their foreign counterparts.