Russian A-50 Radar Jet, IL-22M Command Aircraft Shot Down

Small number of A-50 AEW&C jets and IL-22M airborne command posts are currently operational, making their replacement a slow and challenging process.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 08:28 AM, January 15, 2024
  • 1024
Russian A-50 Radar Jet, IL-22M Command Aircraft Shot Down
Il-22 air-borne command post

In recent developments over the Sea of Azov, there are emerging reports suggesting the engagement of a Russian A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) jet and an IL-22M airborne command post by Ukrainian air defense forces on Sunday.

This possible incident poses challenges for Russia, given the crucial roles both aircraft play in command-and-control functions. Some reports say the plane was shot down, others say it landed in a damaged condition.

Deputy Chairman of the Committee on National Security, Defense, and Intelligence in the Verkhovna Rada, Yuriy Mysiagin, stated on Telegram that Ukrainian units fired at the two Russian air force aircraft over the Sea of Azov around 9:00 p.m. The A-50 was reportedly targeted by Ukraine Air Force's Patriot PAC-2 SAM system, crashing into the Black Sea, while the IL-22M was engaged by a Russian S-400 SAM system, resulting in a crash landing in Anapa.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has not officially commented on the claim, and the Russian Defense Ministry has remained silent on the reported incidents.

If verified, the loss of these two rare command and control aircraft would be a significant setback for Russia, considering their limited numbers. A small number of A-50 Mainstay AEW&C jets and IL-22M airborne command posts are currently operational, making their replacement a slow and challenging process.

Russian A-50 Radar Jet, IL-22M Command Aircraft Shot Down
Unconfirmed image of damaged Il-22

The A-50s are recognized as low-density, high-demand assets, providing critical capabilities such as look-down air pictures reaching deep into Ukrainian-controlled territory. These aircraft are vital for detecting incoming threats, including cruise missile and drone attacks, as well as low-flying fighter sorties. Additionally, they offer command and control functions for Russian fighters and SAM batteries.

The potential downing of these aircraft could have consequences beyond the immediate loss. Denying reconnaissance aircraft access to critical areas of operation may force them farther away from Ukrainian territory, degrading the quality of intelligence and command and control they provide. This situation could also pose risks to Russian fighters in the area, potentially disrupting their operations far from the front lines.

Update:

The Kremlin stated on Monday that it lacks information regarding Ukrainian claims of shooting down Russian military aircraft over the Azov Sea. Ukraine's top general, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, had earlier announced the destruction of a Russian A-50 radar detection aircraft and an Il-22 aerial command center.

Ukrainian sources reported the attack occurred around 9:00 p.m. local time on Sunday. The A-50 allegedly disappeared from radar, and the Il-22M11 requested an emergency landing in southern Russia. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied knowledge of the incident, directing inquiries to Russia's Defense Ministry, which has not yet commented on Ukraine's claims.

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