Ukraine Shoots Down First Russian Bomber of the War

As this publication reported last night, a Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bomber had crashed the in Krasnogvardeysky District of Stavropol Krai. Initially, Russian governor Valdimirov claimed two pilots of the three that had been rescued had been reported hospitalized and one was still missing. However, by 0400 EST, emergency officials in Russia claimed they had found the body of the fourth pilot, who was deceased. The death toll has been reported at two, indicating that one of the pilots that ejected had succumbed to his injuries.

Russia Claims Malfunction, Ukraine Claims Shootdown

Initially, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the Tu-22M3 crash had been caused by a technical malfunction. However, by 0400 EST, the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate published that Ukrainian Armed Forces had shot down the bomber using an S-200 strategic surface-to-air-missile. The engagement occurred after several bombers had carried out an attack against the port city of Odessa last night. Thier announcement reads below:

“On the night of April 19, 2024, the Russian invaders launched a combined strike with missiles of various types and attack UAVs. In total, the enemy used 36 means of air attack – 22 missiles of various types and 14 attack drones: – 2 Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles from Tu-95 MS strategic aviation aircraft (Ryazan launch area – Russian Federation); – 14 attack UAVs of the “Shahed-131/136” type (from Primorsko-Akhtarsk regions, Kursk region – Russian Federation); – 12 Kh-59/Kh-69 guided air missiles (Kursk region and from the waters of the Sea of Azov); – 2 “Iskander-K” cruise missiles (from Crimea); – 6 Kh-22 cruise missiles from Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers (from the waters of the Black and Azov Seas). “

The statement then outlines how the Ukrainian air defenses engaged and destroyed their first confirmed Russian Long Range Aviation Command target:

“Anti-aircraft missile forces of the Air Force, mobile fire groups and electronic warfare units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine were involved in repelling the enemy’s air attack. As a result of anti-aircraft combat, 29 air targets were destroyed: – 2 Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles; – 14 attack UAVs of the “Shahed-131/136″ type; – 11 Kh-59/Kh-69 guided air missiles; – 2 Kh-22 cruise missiles. For the first time, the anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force, in cooperation with the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, destroyed the long-range strategic bomber Tu-22M3 – the carrier of Kh-22 cruise missiles, which Russian terrorists use to attack peaceful Ukrainian cities.”

Uncharacteristically Risky Deployment

The Russian Long Range Aviation Command has taken extreme measures to protect its valuable bombers by deploying them to several airfields throughout the Russian Federation after Ukrainian strikes against airfields near the borders. Usually these bombers deploy their munitions over the Caspian Sea or deep within Russia. By flying closer to the Ukrainian border over Stravopol Krai, these bombers put themselves in the Missile Engagement Zone (MEZ) of Ukrainian air defenses.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has not made a counterstatement to the Ukrainian claim of shooting down the plane.

United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.


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