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Ukraine intercepts Russian bomber, Kh-22 cruise missiles in historic first

Reportedly, a modified Soviet-era S-200 air defense system was used to shoot down the Tu-22M3 strategic bomber. Two Kh-22 quasi-ballistic missiles were intercepted with unknown weapons
Wreckage of the crashed Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bomber in Russia’s Stavropol Krai. Source: Telegram channel Astra
Ukraine intercepts Russian bomber, Kh-22 cruise missiles in historic first

A Tu-22M3 missile carrier, the type of aircraft Russia uses to strike Ukraine, crashed in the Russian Stavropol region after a missile attack on Ukraine’s Dnipro region on the morning of 19 April 2024.

The Russian Ministry of Defense claims the plane crashed due to a “technical malfunction.” A video shows the burning Tu-22M3 crashing over Russian Stavropol Krai, nearly 400 km from the frontline.

According to Vladimir Vladimirov, the governor of the Stavropol region, the plane crashed in a field in the Krasnogvardeysky district. Vladimirov added that two pilots ejected from the plane. They were found alive and taken to the hospital. 

According to Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, citing the Russian Ministry of Defense, the crashed aircraft was indeed a Tu-22M3 bomber-missile carrier of the Russian Aerospace Forces. The plane allegedly crashed in the Stavropol region after completing a combat mission while returning to its base airfield due to a “technical malfunction.”

Ukraine’s air force claimed they shot down the aircraft. The commander of the Air Force also claimed that Ukraine managed to shoot down Kh-22 missiles for the first time. He didn’t specify what allowed Ukraine to shoot them down. Previously, Ukraine couldn’t down them because of the high speed and quasi-ballistic trajectory of Kh-22.

“For the first time, the anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force, in cooperation with the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine, destroyed the Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber – the carrier of Kh-22 cruise missiles, which Russian terrorists use to attack peaceful Ukrainian cities,” said Ukraine’s Air Force Commander General Mykola Oleschuk.

“During today’s attack, two such missiles were destroyed for the first time. Ukraine needs more means, more missiles, in order to better protect the frontline territories from Russian terrorism. I thank everyone who ensured this result today. Evil will be punished! Together to victory!” 

Previously, Ukraine managed to shoot down a Rare Russian A-50, a Soviet-origin airborne early warning and control aircraft, over the Sea of Azov, which reportedly cost Russia approximately $350 million. The second A-50 was downed over the Krasnodar region over 200 kilometers from the frontline. Witnesses in the village of Trudovaya Armeniya in the Krasnodar region observed the burning aircraft as it went down, indicating the severity of the incident.

This downing reflects ongoing strategic attacks by Ukrainian forces aimed at degrading Russian aerial reconnaissance and command capabilities. The loss of such high-value assets not only impacts Russia’s operational capabilities but also signals significant vulnerabilities in Russian air defense amidst the ongoing war. The downing of these planes has reportedly led to the death of several Russian military officers, including a colonel, and has forced a tactical reevaluation, decreasing for several weeks the number of Russian air strikes, including with glide bombs.

The recent incident of Ukraine shooting down a Tu-22 strategic bomber became the first such case. Previously, Ukraine attacked several Russian bases with strategic bombers. Ukraine’s 24 TV channels reported, referring to its sources in intelligence, that a modified S-200 air defense system was used to shoot down the aircraft.

Before the incident on 19 April 2024, Russia conducted massive missile strikes targeting southern Ukrainian regions. In particular, the missile strike hit a residential building in the city of Dnipro, killing at least two civilians and injuring 15, including an 8-year-old child who later died in the hospital. The attack also claimed the life of a woman in Synelnykove, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

The five-story building in Dnipro was partially destroyed and caught fire, potentially trapping people under the rubble. Two infrastructure facilities were also damaged. In Synelnykove, four private houses were partially destroyed, and eight more were damaged.

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