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Frontline report: nine Russian aircraft destroyed or damaged in latest attack from Russian territory

A recent Ukrainian strike on a Russian airfield in the Pskov region destroyed two and damaged up to seven IL-76 planes. The strike was likely conducted from Russian territory using cardboard drones, hardly visible to radars.
Frontline report: nine Russian aircraft destroyed or damaged in latest attack from Russian territory

More information about the Ukrainian strike on the Russian strategic airfield in Pskov on 30 August became available. Previously, the complete destruction of 2 aircraft and possible damage to 2 more were confirmed, but further evaluation was complicated due to the cloudy weather. However, today, it was reported that those 5 previously invisible aircraft highly likely received some damage as well, increasing the number of damaged aircraft from 4 to 9.

But the biggest news is not about the damage inflicted but how Ukrainians did it. Initially, there were 3 theories: that Ukrainians launched their drones from Ukraine, of which Russian analysts were skeptical; that Ukrainians launched it through Belarus; and that Baltic states helped Ukraine to conduct this strike. As it turned out, none of these versions are correct. Some Russian analysts also recalled how two weeks ago, Ukrainian saboteurs operating on the territory of the Russian Federation launched drones from the nearby settlements and damaged 2 Russian strategic bombers Tu-22m3, on 2 different airfields. These analysts suggested that maybe this drone strike was also launched from the Russian territory, but other analysts claimed that this was too crazy. The sheer scale of the strike would suggest that Ukrainians established a large-scale production of assault drones inside Russia, created launch pads, and a complicated system of surveillance and coordination, which, as they concluded, would be simply impossible to hide from the Russian Federal Security Services.

Unfortunately for Russians, this is exactly what happened. Right after the strike, the spokesman for Ukrainian Intelligence, Andriy Yusov, released a video of one of the initial tests of a new type of drone that could be assembled from simple cardboard. Possibly, this could be an Australian-made drone or a similar version.

Yusov also claimed that they had already used these drones in a small-scale attack on the Russian airfields in Kursk on 27 August and destroyed 4 fighter jets Su-30, and 1 jet Mig-29. Given that Ukrainians are literally using paper planes with explosives, they are very easy to create and assemble and very hard to detect by radars. Judging by the video, the drones also explode above the target and cover a large area with shrapnel that is capable of penetrating fuselage, fuel tanks, badly damaging an entire aircraft¸ and easily causing a fire. Such a teaser obviously raised a lot of discussions inside the Russian media space and gave rise to speculations about the usage of these drones during the large-scale strike on Pskov.

Two days later, the Head of Ukrainian Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, officially confirmed in an interview that the strike on Pskov was indeed launched from the territory of the Russian Federation. Simultaneously, Ukrainians released a video of the moment of the strike and destruction of one of the Russian strategic cargo planes IL-76. This means that Ukrainians did not just launch drones based on some information but on real-time intelligence that they were receiving via a flying drone. That is why Ukrainians could dynamically correct the trajectories, ensuring a much higher success rate.

British Intelligence recently released a report about all known Ukrainian drone strikes on Crimea and Russia in 2023, and it turned out that in less than 240 days, Ukrainians conducted 190 known strikes. Once again, this does not include those conducted near the contact line, just Crimea and Russia. And as you can also notice from the map, the reach of these drone strikes is very impressive – a lot of bases in the Moscow and Tula regions suffered over these months.

Taking only the last month – August – based only on the confirmed destruction of Russian equipment from videos that happened on the territory of the Russian Federation, Ukrainians destroyed 1.2 billion dollars worth of equipment, which is a substantial proportion of the Russian annual military budget, and is incomparable to how little Ukrainians spent on cheap drones and lately paper planes with explosives for these strikes.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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