Ukrainian forces allegedly shot down a Russian A-50 military aircraft over the Azov Sea, RBC Ukraine reported on Jan. 14, citing an unnamed source in the Ukrainian military. An additional Russian military plane, the Il-22M, was also allegedly damaged.
Reports suggest that the A-50 plane was shot down immediately after it went on duty in the Kyrylivka area of Zaporizhzhia at 9:10 p.m. local time. The aircraft disappeared from radars and stopped responding to requests from tactical aviation. Later that night, the pilot of a Russian Su-30 plane detected ignition and the fall of an unidentified aircraft.
The Il-22M was on duty in the Strilkove area before it was reportedly shot down along the coast of the Azov Sea at around 9 p.m. local time. RBC posted an audio recording of what it describes as an “intercepted conversation” between the Russian pilot of the aircraft and the airfield controller in Anapa, Russia. The pilot called for an evacuation, as well as an ambulance and fire services.
Russia’s A-50 aircraft provides several critical functions for ongoing military actions in Ukraine, such as detecting air defense systems, guided missiles, and coordinating targets for Russian fighter jets.
Although critically important, Russia only possesses eight of these planes. If lost in action, it would be incredibly difficult if not possible to replace. Russia accordingly operates the A-50s at a reasonable distance from Ukrainian air defense systems. Ukraine’s successful destruction of the A-50 aircraft would therefore be particularly noteworthy.
Deputy Chairman of the Committee on National Security, Defense, and Intelligence in the Verkhovna Rada, Yuriy Mysiagin, stated on Telegram that the two planes were destroyed on Sunday evening. However, confirmation by Ukrainian military officials is not yet available.
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