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Ukraine Air Force: Russian colonel, junior officers were on board of destroyed A-50 AWACS plane

The downing of Russia’s A-50 radar and command aircraft on 14 January resulted in the loss of an air force colonel and junior officers who were on board, per Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman.
Russia’s airborne early warning and control aircraft A-50U (Red 41). File photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said that the crew on board Russia’s A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft downed on 14 January comprised mainly junior officers and a colonel. He said it on the Ukrainian national telethon, according to Liga.

On 14 January, Russia lost a crucial early warning aircraft, weakening its airspace control in southern Ukraine, and resulting in the loss of young air force officers who would be challenging to replace.

Ihnat said he discovered that obituaries said that that a colonel was on the downed A-50, and young air force officers:

“I was even surprised, to be honest, that junior lieutenants were on board those planes,” he said.

Ihnat says the loss of junior officers is tangible for Russia since they are military university graduates trained for five years, followed by several more years they practice directly in the troops to gain combat operation experience.

“We’re talking about the A-50, also about the Il-22. Two airframes were destroyed there (IL-22 was severely damaged, but managed to land, – Ed.) They have fewer aircraft and fewer crew. This, of course, made us feel better, as their capabilities have somewhat decreased,” the spokesman added.

Ihnat also recalled that a new Russian A-50 aircraft had recently appeared in the Sea of Azov, “but it did not fly so close” to Ukraine after the previous aircraft was destroyed.

“And the closer it flies to our coast, the further it can conduct radar reconnaissance in the airspace of our country. So it doesn’t dare to do that anymore, and that’s good,” Ihnat explained.

UK: New Russian A-50 radar plane kept distant from Ukraine after previous one downed

  • On the evening of 14 January 2024, reports emerged on social media that the Russian A-50 and Il-22M11 aircraft were downed over the Sea of Azov.
  • The morning after the news broke, Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk hinted that this was true and announced revenge against the Russians for the missile attack on a high-rise building in Dnipro on 14 January 2023.
  • On the afternoon of 15 January, the Ukrainian Army’s Chief Zaluzhnyi confirmed the downing of two Russian aircraft.
  • Ukrainian Intelligence Chief Kyrylo Budanov said the A-50 was shot down and exploded, while the IL-22 was heavily damaged but managed to make an emergency landing in Russia’s Anapa.

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