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Media sources: Ukraine used old S-200 long-range SAM system to down Russia’s Tu-22M3 strategic bomber for the first time

Ukraine claims shooting down a Russian Tu-22M strategic bomber. Intelligence sources say Ukraine used the old S-200 SAM system to hit the aircraft from 300 kilometers away.
Background: Three frames from a social media video showing the Russian Tu-22M3 crashing in Stavropol Krai on the morning of 19 April 2024. Foreground: left bottom – reference image, top right – wreckage of the crashed Tu-22M3. Collage: Euromaidan Press.
Media sources: Ukraine used old S-200 long-range SAM system to down Russia’s Tu-22M3 strategic bomber for the first time

On the morning of 19 April, after the Russian sources reported the crash of a Russian strategic bomber Tupolev Tu-22M3 Bakhfire in Russia’s Stavropol Krai, the Ukrainian Air Force Commander claimed shooting down the strategic bomber in mid-air while it was flying over Russia on a combat mission.

For the first time, anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force in cooperation with the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine destroyed a Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber, a carrier of Kh-22 cruise missiles used by Russian terrorists to hit peaceful Ukrainian cities. During today’s attack, two such missiles were destroyed for the first time,” Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said.

During the early morning Russian missile and drone assault against Ukraine, various Ukrainian airspace monitoring channels reported that three T-22s launched missiles from the Black Sea west of occupied Crimea’s Sevastopol targeting the area of Zatoka town in Odesa Oblast. The last of these three crashed on its way to its home base in Mozfok, Russia’s North Ossetia.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Illia Yevlash told AFP that the long-range Russian bomber shot down had been used in missile strikes on Dnipro and Kryvyi Rih during the morning air assault, which killed at least seven people, including two children, and injured 35.

“This was the plane that bombed Dnipro and Kryvyi Rih. We took our revenge for our cities and civilians,” Yevlash said.

Forbes notes that, if confirmed, this would be Russia’s first loss of a Backfire bomber in the air since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022, and the second or third loss overall. In 2023, Ukraine attacked the Tu-22M bases in Russia.

S-200 surface-to-air missile system from the 1960s did the job

According to Forbes, Ukraine may have utilized either the US-made Patriot missile system or its aging Soviet-era S-200 surface-to-air missiles with long ranges to strike the bomber.

Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) updated, saying the Tu-22 was hit at a range of some 300 kilometers, sustained damage, and crashed on its way back in a region, neighboring North Ossetia:

The enemy Tu-22M3 aircraft was shot down at a distance of about 300 kilometers from Ukraine using the same means that had previously hit the Russian A-50 long-range radar and control aircraft. As a result of the damage, the bomber was able to fly to Stavropol Krai, where it crashed,” the HUR noted.

The mentioned A-50 AWACS plane and an Il-22 escorting it were hit in late February. The A-50 was destroyed, and the Il-22, which managed to land in an airfield, was damaged. Ukrainska Pravda’s HUR sources confirmed that Ukraine used the S-200 to attack these planes.

Kyiv Post said its sources in military intelligence confirmed that the Main Intelligence Directorate planned and executed the operation, using an S-200 air defense system to shoot down the Russian plane approximately 300 kilometers from Ukraine.

“Loss of thrust” and at least one fatality

Now, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that the Tu-22M3 crashed while returning to its base after completing a combat mission and was flying without ammunition. They also alleged that no one was on board at the time of the crash, with three pilots having ejected: two were hospitalized and one was still being searched for.

The preliminary cause of the Tu-22M3 crash in the Stavropol Territory is loss of thrust of one of the engines, after the hydraulic system exploded and caught fire. One person was killed, the second is being sought,” Russian Telegram channel Mash reported.

Russia had about 60 Tu-22Ms as of 2018, according to Military Ballance data. Together with similar amount of Tu-95 strategic bombers, Russia carries out its air-launched cruise missile attacks against Ukraine.

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