Ukraine Claims to Have Shot Down Russian Spy Planes

( – Ukraine has had precious few successes in its conflict with Russia, but the country claims it has shot down at least one Russian spy jet. Media in Ukraine, passing along claims from Ukraine military officials, said the country’s forces shot down a Berief A-50 radar plane, along with an Ilyushin IL-22 command plane, on Sunday, January 14th.

Media reports in the West are somewhat in conflict, but most claim there is not yet any outside evidence confirming the destruction of the Russian jets.

The Kyiv Independent reports that Ukrainian forces hit the IL-22, a four-engine propeller-driven plane on the coast of the Sea of Azov. The IL-22, comparable to what the U.S. calls a “flying fortress,” can carry up to a crew of 10 and is used as a relay beacon for military radio signals. The plane is also used to coordinate operations on the ground.

RBC Radio in Ukraine has posted an audio recording online that it claims is the IL-22’s crew radioing an S.O.S. call to ground controllers in Anapa, which is also near the Sea of Azov’s coast, but located on the Russian side.

The IL-22 is a rare commodity among Russian air artillery. The country had only 30 of the planes left after the Wagner Mercenary group turned traitorous last summer and shot one of them down.

The other plane that may have been hit is a jet-drive A-50, referred to as an “early-warning” plane. It boasts a radar dome on the top that scans for signals in a 360-degree arc and can pick up other airplanes as far as 250 miles away. Carrying up to 15 crew members, the plane is used to track enemy aircraft while helping to route “friendlies” safely through airspace. Russia has only nine of these craft, and one was damaged at a Belarus base in February 2023.

If the reports out of Ukraine prove true, Sunday, January 14th, will have marked the heaviest losses for the Russian air force in nearly two years.

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