Ukrainian anti-aircraft crews operating near Bakhmut just shot down an expensive supersonic Russian bomber according to a report from Ukraine’s Air Force.
“On March 29th, 2023, anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed a Russian Su-24M bomber,” read a press message from Ukraine’s Air Force that was posted across the military organization’s social media pages.
The downing occurred around 1:30 pm local time near Bakhmut and while the post confirmed that one Russian Sukhoi Su-24M was destroyed, there was no mention of whether or not the aircraft’s pilots survived the encounter with Ukraine’s anti-aircraft missile crews.
CNN reported on the downed Russian bomber in their daily war updates but noted that the information provided by Ukraine’s Air Force could not be independently verified.
If the downing proves true, it would make it the third Russian bomber shot down over the skies of Bakhmut in March and the second time in two weeks that an expensive supersonic Su-24 tactical bomber was brought down by Ukrainian air defense crews.
On March 15th, the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yarmik released video evidence showing the destruction of a Su-24 he claimed was shot down by Ukraine’s 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reposted an edited video on the Su-24s downing, adding the exact coordinates as well as a description likening the area where the aircraft was downed to the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.
“The most mysterious place in Ukraine is the Bakhmut triangle, where Russian planes have been disappearing for a year now,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense wrote in jest on their Twitter post.
According to The Kyiv Independent, a Russian Su-34 fighter bomber was also shot down over Bakhmut at the beginning of March in an incident that left one Russian pilot dead and another injured.
Since the war began, Russia has lost hundreds of its most important aircraft and Ukraine’s General Staff claims the number to be 611 planes as of March 31st.
Oryx is a Dutch non-profit open-source intelligence group that has been tracking visual Russian equipment losses from picture and video evidence, and the organization claims the number of Russain aircraft taken out of the fight is lower than Ukraine’s estimates with 278 planes destroyed and 170 more damaged.
A total of 35 Su-24M bombers have been taken out of the war according to Oryx, with 17 having been destroyed in drone attacks in Crimea airbase and eight more having been damaged.
Most of Russia’s destroyed Su-24s were not taken out in the air but rather on the ground during a daring August airstrike against Russia’s Saky air base in Crimea, making the downing of the aircraft over Bakhmut that much more important and significant.
According to Military Today, the Sukhoi Su-24 is an older Soviet-era all-weather bomber first introduced in the 1960s. It has the ability to carry nuclear weapons and remains a powerful weapon in any air force’s arsenal, especially the upgraded late-1980s Su-24M variant.
“The Su-24 remains a low-level strike attack aircraft with real all-weather precision attack capability,” Military Today wrote.
According to Aero Corner, the price of a new Su-24 in 1997 was roughly $25 million dollars. Adjusting for inflation, the loss of one Su-24 aircraft would amount to $42 million dollars in today’s money—a terrible blow to the Russian Air Force operating in Ukraine.
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