Update (0031 EST, 26DEC22): The Russian Ministry of Defense has confirmed that three soldiers were killed after air defenses downed a Ukrainian UAV over the airfield. According to Russian state-owned media the press release said:
“On the twenty-sixth of December, at about 01:35 Moscow time, the air defense of the Russian Aerospace Forces shot down a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle at low altitude while approaching the Engels military airfield in the Saratov region. injured,” the release said.”
However, according to an article by Izvestia, a video purporting to show the strike does not show air defenses engaging the projectile, which hurdles toward the airbase.
At approximately 1843 EST, reports began to emerge of explosions at the Engels-2 Airbase in Saratov Oblast, Russia. Local residents began reporting by 1900 EST that a “whistle” and a “clap” preceded the explosions. Saratov Oblast Russia Governor Busargin told press that there is no threat to residents and that the incident was being investigated at 2153 EST.
As of this report, at least three have been reported killed, with another four injured, and about 120 square meters of the airbase were affected by burning debris.
Engels Air Force Base is a strategic bomber military airbase in Russia located 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) east of Saratov. Engels is a significant bomber operations base and is Russia’s sole operating location for the Tupolev Tu-160 (NATO: Blackjack) strategic bomber. The base has a 3,500-metre (11,500 ft) runway and about 10 large revetments. It is named after the nearby city of Engels, named after the Communist philosopher Friedrich Engels.
The base is home to the 121st Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment with the Tu-160M and the 184th Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment with the Tupolev Tu-95MS (NATO: Bear-H) of the 22nd Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Division.
On 5 December 2022, an explosion caused by a Ukrainian drone attack reportedly damaged two Tu-95s. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, Ukraine attempted to strike Russia’s long-range aviation bombers stationed at the base with Soviet-made jet drones. Russia claims air defense systems intercepted the drones at low altitudes. Satellite images revealed at least one Tu-95MS bomber being damaged after the attack. (wiki)
The Ukrainians have not claimed responsibility for this incident. However, it is worth noting that they did not claim responsibility for the December 5th attack until nearly a week after.