A Russian Su-35 fighter jet and other aircraft shot down on their own soil were reportedly struck by Ukraine’s powerful Patriot missile system far from the capital city Kyiv.
The MIM-104 Patriot missile defense system is the only long-range missile defense currently available in Ukrainian inventory that can shoot down enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles up to 160 km range.
Putin’s air force is said to have suffered one of its worst days since the war began as Ukraine appeared to amp up its offensive.
A week ago, Russia lost two jets, a Su-34 and Su-35, and two Mi-8 military helicopters were shot out of the sky over the Bryansk region last week.
Footage shared online showed the military planes and choppers taking a nosedive before crashing into the ground in an inferno.
The town where the first two planes crashed lies in the south-eastern region of Bryansk, about 25 miles from the Ukrainian border.
Another Mi-8 helicopter along with a Su-35 single seater fighter also came down, elsewhere in the region.
Then just two hours later, footage showed the Su-34 falling from the skies and its burnt wreckage on the ground.
Up to 11 Russian airmen are reported to have perished, but their funerals are said to have been classified by authorities to save face.
Conflicting reports emerged in wake of the crashes, with Russian news outlets claiming the aircraft were taken out by friendly fire when target recognition systems malfunctioned.
Ukrainian reports also strongly denied its forces were responsible, alleging they were hit by Russia’s own air defences.
But it has now been alleged that Kyiv had carried out the attacks while using its American-made Patriot missile defense system.
The war-torn nation is said to have targeted Putin’s jets as they suspected they were getting ready to launch missiles at Ukrainian targets.
Russian newspaper Kommersant said the aircraft were “to carry out a missile-bombing strike on targets in the Chernihiv Region of Ukraine”.
According to CNN, the publication stated that the helicopters were sent “to back them up, including to pick up the Su crews if they were shot down by enemy fire.”
It was also suggested that one of the choppers may have been kitted out with advanced jamming equipment.
The Patriot – which stands for Phased Array Tracking Radar for Intercept on Target – boasts a powerful radar, a control station, a power generator, launch stations and other support vehicles.
And crucially, it is believed to be the only missile system that is capable of shooting as far as Bryansk.
Some experts suggested Ukraine may have pushed its air defences towards the border in retaliation to Russia using more “glide munitions” that can be fired from a distance.
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