US Confirms Ukrainian-Operated Patriot Missile Downed Russian A-50 in January

While speaking at the Fires Symposium last week, United States Army Colonel Rosanna Clemente confirmed that Ukrainian forces used a Patriot missile system to down a Russian A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft over the Sea of Azov back in January.

What was Said

While speaking on Ukrainian air defense capabilities, Colonel Clemente, the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s G3, stated that “The 96th ADA Brigade commander, who is the Ukrainian air defense commander responsible for the protection of Kyiv… has Patriot, NASAMS, IRIS-T, Ukrainian-based S-300s, S-125s, German-donated Gepards, US-donated Avengers arrayed along known air enemy avenues of approach to engage targets, particularly one-way attack drones, even before they arrive into populated areas and cities.”

“You know what you gave them, whether it’s a battalion of IRIS-T, a battalion of Patriot, and the capabilities those provide. Take a look at how they are using them.”

“They probably have a [battalion of Patriots] operating in Ukraine right now used to protect static sites and critical national infrastructure” she explained, adding that “Others are being moved around doing some really, really historic things that I’ve haven’t seen in 22 years of being an air defender and one of them is the “SAMbush.” What’s become to be known as the surface to air ambush.”

“And they are doing that with extremely mobile Patriot systems that were donated by the Germans. The systems are all mounted on the trucks. So they are moving around and they are using these types of systems, bringing them close to the FLOT (Forward Line of Own Troops) to gain and [stretch] the very very edges of the kinematic capabilities of that system to engage the first A-50 C2 system back in January,” she concluded.

The Downing

On January 14, a Russian A-50 AEW&C aircraft was shot down while operating over the Sea of Azov. Likewise, a IL-22 Airborne Command Post was damaged, but able to return to Anapa Airfield in Russia.

The downing was first reported by Ukrainian Rada member Yuriy Mysyagin, who posted to his Telegram channel that ”Around 9:00 p.m., Ukrainian units fired at two Russian air force aircraft, namely the A-50 DRLO aircraft and the IL-22 bomber, which were over the waters of the Sea of Azov. The A-50 was shot down, and the IL-22 was shot down, but it was in the air and tried to reach the nearest airfield, but it disappeared from the radar after the descent began, in the Kerch area.“

The incident was officially announced by the Ukrainian military a day after, with Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi saying that the Russians “knew the risk of flying near Southern Ukraine.”

Russian milbloggers were quick to claim that both aircraft were targeted by friendly fire and denied that the A-50 was shot down by Ukrainian air defenses. Russia never officially acknowledged the loss.

The so What

Confirmation that Patriot missiles were used to destroy the aircraft, which is a critical asset in Russia’s early warning capabilities, is a significant development.

At the time of the downing, doubts were cast over speculation that Patriot missiles were used since the Sea of Azov was at the far reaches of its operating range, however, area denial operations using anti-aircraft systems have been ongoing in southern Ukraine against other Russian platforms using Patriot missiles.

Colonel Clemente’s note that Patriot systems are being deployed on trucks along the FLOT increases Ukraine’s ability to target Russian air assets, but also puts them at greater risk of destruction.

Back in March, Ukraine suffered its first two Patriot system losses due to a Russian Iskander missile strike in Serhiivka, Donetsk, some 50km from the frontline.

Unbiased & Unfiltered News Reporting for 12+ years. Covering Geo-Political conflicts, wartime events, and vital Breaking News from around the world. Editor-In-Chief of Atlas News.


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