Valuable Russian Aircraft Shot Down By Ukraine

According to Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s military, the country’s air force last week shot down a Russian long-range detection spy plane, as well as a key command center plane, striking two significant blows to Moscow’s war effort, the Associated Press reported.

The two planes played a key role in helping coordinate battlefield movements in the nearly 2-year war.

News outlets, including the Associated Press and the BBC, have been unable to verify the attacks. However, if the Ukrainian military’s reports are confirmed, the destruction of the two planes would mark a landmark defeat for Russia in the war.

The Russians have maintained air dominance throughout the war, with Ukraine left to combat Russia’s superior air power with a fleet of Soviet-era aircraft.

Gen. Zaluzhnyi did not say how the Beriev A-50 and the Il-22 aircraft were shot down, nor did he say where the incidents occurred. However, Ukraine has been supplied with sophisticated air defense systems courtesy of its allies in the West.

The Beriev A-50 is a long-range detection aircraft with a 15-man crew that can spot targets up to 400 miles away. The Russian Air Force reportedly has a fleet of nine A-50s in operation.

The Il-22 is a command center aircraft that transmits to forces on the ground. Russia reportedly has a dozen Il-22s in operation.

Gen. Zaluzhnyi posted on social media video footage purportedly showing the two targets being shot down over the Azov Sea north of the Crimea Peninsula between Russia and Ukraine.

While there was no official response from the Kremlin, Russian war bloggers on Telegram claimed that both aircraft were damaged in friendly fire. However, no evidence was presented to support the claim.

One blogger claimed that the Il-22 was able to return to Russia and land safely. However, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said the command center plane was damaged beyond repair, according to the BBC.