Ukraine claims it shot down 2 Russian command and control aircraft in a significant blow to Moscow

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The Ukrainian air force shot down a Russian Beriev A-50 early warning and control plane and an IL-22 command center aircraft in a significant blow for the Kremlin’s forces, Ukraine’s military chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi claimed Monday.

The planes are key tools in helping orchestrate Russian battlefield movements. Shooting them down is a landmark feat for Ukraine in the almost two-year war, as fighting along the front line is largely bogged down in trench and artillery warfare.

Zaluzhnyi did not say how the aircraft were brought down, but Ukraine has received sophisticated modern air defense systems from its Western allies.

He also did not say where the interception occurred, though he attached a video to his social media post with an airplane tracker showing two targets disappearing above the Azov Sea, which lies between Ukraine and Russia, north of the Crimea Pensinsula and the Black Sea.

There was no immediate official comment from Moscow. Russian war bloggers said both planes had come under friendly fire, though they presented no evidence of that. They claimed the Il-22 was damaged but made a successful landing.

The A-50 is an early warning and control aircraft with a large radar capable of spotting air targets at distances of up to 650 kilometers (400 miles). It has a crew of 15. The Russian air force reportedly has been operating a fleet of nine such aircraft.

An A-50 was damaged by a February 2023 drone attack at an airfield in Belarus where it was parked, but Russian and Belarusian officials said it sustained only minor damage.

The Il-22 is an airborne command post, intended to oversee military operations and relay radio signal to troops on the front line. The Russian air force reportedly has a dozen such planes.


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