Russia lost Su-34 and Su-25 fighter aircraft in a day

Ukrainian forces shot down Su-34 using RBS-70 MANPAD.

Russia has lost two jets in under 24 hours, according to new reports, in the latest show of damage to Moscow’s air force sustained in the nearly two years of war in Ukraine.

Russia lost an Su-34 fighter-bomber aircraft after Ukraine attacked a Russian air base on Saturday night into Sunday morning, Ukrainian media reported. Separately, Ukraine’s air force said Moscow had shot down one of its own Su-25 tactical bomber jets on Sunday.

Russia’s air force has suffered since the Kremlin launched its war effort in Ukraine back in February 2022. According to Ukraine’s military, Russia has lost 324 aircraft since the start of all-out war. But Ukraine’s military has not listed any new aircraft losses for Moscow in its recent updates.

Earlier this year, Newsweek revealed that more than a fifth of Russia’s known manned aircraft and helicopter losses between late February 2022 and mid-August 2023 were not down to Ukrainian operations.

“I can say with confidence that it was not Ukrainian air defense that shot down the Russian Su-25 attack aircraft,” Lieutenant General Mykola Oleschuk, who heads up Ukraine’s air force, said on Sunday. Russian anti-aircraft defenses took out the fighter jet, he said. The influential Russian military blogger, known as Fighterbomber, also appeared to confirm the loss of a Russian Su-25 on Sunday.

Ukraine’s military and security service, the SBU, attacked a Russian airfield in the border Rostov region on Saturday night, Ukrainian outlet Ukrainska Pravda reported on Sunday, citing an unnamed source in the SBU.

“Drones were deployed to attack the airfield,” the outlet reported. “Though the Russian Federation has issued its usual statement saying that all drones had been shot down, in reality Ukraine’s Security Service and the Ukrainian Armed Forces inflicted substantial damage on [Russian] military equipment.”

The governor of Russia’s Rostov region, Vasily Golubev, said the country’s air defenses “repelled a massive attack” by aircraft-type drones around Morozovsk and the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, close to the border with Ukraine’s Luhansk region that Russia annexed.

The Morozovsk airfield housed up to 20 of Russia’s Su-34 aircraft, belonging to Moscow’s 559th Bomber Aviation Regiment, at the time of the drone strikes, according to Ukrainska Pravda.

“Most of the drones were destroyed,” Golubev said, adding only that there were no casualties. Newsweek has approached the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Ukraine had targeted several of its regions with 33 drones, including Volgograd, Lipetsk and Rostov. The Russian government later said two more Ukrainian drones had been shot down over the Volgograd region.

Ukraine has repeatedly targeted Russian airfields, aiming to take out the Russian jets firing missiles at Ukrainian cities and infrastructure before they can take off. In mid-October, Ukraine debuted its U.S.-supplied ATACMS missiles to strike a slew of helicopters at a Russian military base in the Moscow-controlled Luhansk region of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to allude to the operation in his Sunday evening address, expressing his “special gratitude” to Ukraine’s security service, the country’s military intelligence agency and Kyiv’s foreign intelligence service.

“This is the case when no specifics will be given,” he said, only adding that “it was powerful.”

Also on Sunday, Russia said it had shot down two Ukrainian MiG-29 aircraft and one Su-25 aircraft over the southern Mykolaiv region and the eastern Donetsk region. It is not clear whether this Su-25 jet is the same aircraft believed to belong to Russia’s air force, rather than Ukraine’s military.

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