On 26 February, Belarusian anti-government activists said they had blown up a Russian military surveillance aircraft A-50 MAINSTAY in Belarus.
In its latest intelligence update, the British Defense Ministry has called the loss of aircraft “significant,” as it is critical to Russian air operations for providing an air battlespace picture.
The ministry tweeted:
- On 19 January 2023, amateur aircraft spotters observed a Russian A-50 MAINSTAY Airborne Early Warning System accompanied by two MIG-31K FOXHOUND fighters departing from Machulishchy air base, Belarus, participating in joint Russian-Belarusian air drills between 16 January and 1 February 2023
- On February 26, 2023, Belarusian partisan group BYPOL and exiled opposition leaders an A-50 MAINSTAY had sustained damage from Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) attacks at Machulischy air base. BYPOL reported two explosions and damage to the front and middle sections of the A-50 MAINSTAY as well as the radar antenna
- Attribution and damage has not been officially corroborated. However, the loss of an A-50 MAINSTAY would be significant as it is critical to Russian air operations for providing an air battlespace picture. This will likely leave six operational A-50s in service, further constraining Russian air operations.