In a bold and strategic move, Ukraine has asserted that its Air Force successfully shot down two Russian airborne command aircraft, dealing a severe blow to Moscow’s air force capabilities during one of the most critical phases of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
According to Ukrainian media reports, the incident occurred on Sunday evening over the Sea of Azov, near the Kyrylivka area of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. An A-50 radar early-warning plane and a Russian Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post were targeted in what marks a significant setback for the Russian military.
A Russian AF Ilyshin Il-22M11 is said to have been damaged by Ukrainian armed forces in the Kerch area. Several occupants were injured. The aircraft performed an emergency landing at Anapa Airport, Krasnodar Krai, Russia. A Russian AF Beriev A-50 reconnaissance plane was shot down by Ukrainian armed forces near Kyrylivka, Zaporizhzhya Oblast. Other sources state that the crash was a result of friendly fire.
Sources from Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) confirmed the downing of the two aircraft, but details regarding the means used for the attack were not disclosed. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny expressed gratitude to the Air Force for the operation and released radar footage illustrating the flight paths of the Russian planes.
The A-50 radar early-warning plane, a Beriev A-50 Mainstay, disappeared from radars and stopped responding to radio calls, with a Russian Su-30 pilot later confirming the hit. Simultaneously, an Il-22M airborne command post sustained damage, forcing an emergency landing on the Russian side of the Sea of Azov.
Ukraine’s military had previously set a record last month by downing three Russian Su-34 strike aircraft in a single day. As in that instance, the specific weapon systems employed in Sunday’s attacks were not disclosed, but speculation points to the possible use of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system.
The loss of two command planes in a single day represents a significant setback for Russia’s air force, underscoring the challenges Moscow faces in maintaining control over Ukrainian airspace. With nine A-50 planes and 30 IL-22Ms in service, the reported incidents mark a pivotal moment in the ongoing conflict, potentially impacting the dynamics of the invasion.
As of now, the Russian Ministry of Defense has not officially commented on the reported losses, adding an air of complexity to an already delicate regional security landscape. The situation surrounding the downing of the two Russian airborne command aircraft will likely have far-reaching implications in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Details of the incident are still emerging, and further updates will be provided as the situation unfolds.