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Air Force: Ukraine downs Russian Tu-22M3 bomber for first time

by Kateryna Hodunova April 19, 2024 11:24 AM 2 min read
Russia Tu-22M and Tupolev Tu-160 take part in a rehearsal for 2020 Victory Day parade on Moscow's Tverskaya Street in Moscow, Russia, on June 20, 2020. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukrainian anti-aircraft units shot down a Russian Tu-22M3 bomber for the first time, Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said on April 19.

The Tu-22M3 bomber crashed in Russia's Stavropol Krai on the morning of April 19, just after Russia launched an attack on Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

According to Stavropol Krai Governor Vladimir Vladimirov, the Russian plane crashed in the region's Krasnogvardeysky District. Vladimirov claimed two pilots ejected from the aircraft. One pilot was allegedly killed and another crew member is missing.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the aircraft crashed due to a "technical malfunction" while returning to its base airfield after completing a combat mission, according to Russian state-controlled media.

The Ukrainian Air Force claimed to have shot down the aircraft:

"For the first time, the anti-aircraft missile units of the (Ukrainian) Air Force, in cooperation with Ukraine's Main Directorate of Intelligence, destroyed a Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber – the carrier of Kh-22 cruise missiles, which the Russian terrorists use to attack peaceful Ukrainian cities," Oleshchuk said.

According to Ukraine's military intelligence, the Russian aircraft was shot down around 300 kilometers from Ukraine with the "same means that were previously used to shoot the Russian A-50 long-range radar detection and control aircraft."

A source from the military intelligence told the Kyiv Independent that the plane had been shot down by a Soviet-era S-200 anti-air system. The system dates back to the 1960s and has been previously described as a largely obsolete weapon.

Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andrii Yusov told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the second Russian aircraft was forced to turn around after the first one was attacked.

"It means that another series of missiles was not launched at Ukraine," Yusov said.

The Ukrainian Air Force also reported downing two Kh-22 cruise missiles.

Russian forces regularly use Tu-22M3 long-range strategic and maritime strike bombers, commonly armed with AS-4 heavy anti-ship or Kh-22 cruise missiles, in airstrikes against Ukraine. Some of these planes carried out the heavy bombardment of Mariupol in 2022 using unguided bombs.

In August 2023, Ukraine's military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said Russia fielded 27 operable Tu-22M3 strategic bombers.

"Ukraine needs more means, more missiles, in order to better protect its front-line territories from Russian terrorism," Oleshchuk said.

Opinion: How many planes does Russia have?
The Ukrainian military shot down five Russian military aircraft in the span of three days in early March, begging the question: How many planes does Russia have? This is a complex question, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: The numbers listed in international indexes are often quite
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