A Ukrainian official said the country’s military shot down five Russian aircraft in five minutes in a frenzied counterattack this year.
Yuriy Ihnat, a Ukrainian Air Force spokesman, told the Ukrainian media outlet Novynarnia that the spree was carried out using a Patriot missile system, one of its most precious pieces of military aid from the West.
The outlet reported that the five takedowns were two warplanes and three helicopters: One Su-34 jet, One Su-35 jet, two rare Mi-8MTPR-1 electronic warfare helicopters and a regular Mi-8 helicopter.
Ihnat said the shots were fired over Russian airspace in Bryansk Oblast, which borders Ukraine.
Reports at the time said Russia appeared to have lost at least 4 planes that day, an unusually high number. But it did not say how they were hit.
“According to preliminary data … the fighters were supposed to deliver a missile and bomb attack on targets in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, and the helicopters were there to back them up, among other things, to pick up the ‘Su’ crews if they were shot down,” the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported at the time.
Russia has launched airstrikes on the Ukrainian military from well behind the front line in the hope of evading air-defense systems. But Ukraine pushed its assets forward to counter them anyway, CNN reported.
Patriot systems have a range of about 100 miles and are considered to be among the world’s most effective air-defense systems.
Russian state-media reports and social-media footage at the time said the aircraft had crashed without explaining why.
Ihnat said of the events that day: “It was a brilliant operation under the leadership of the commander of the Air Force. Thanks to non-standard decisive actions, the Patriot air defense units in five minutes immediately destroyed five aircraft on the Bryansk axis, from where they bombarded our northern regions with guided aerial bombs at the time.”
Ihnat also said a Patriot system was used to down a Russian warplane over the Black Sea shortly afterward, leading Russia to reduce military operations in the region.
“And after that, they stopped flying there for a while because they realized that it is dangerous there, they can be shot down,” Ihnat told the publication, referring to the Russians. “The Patriot complex presents such possibilities!” he added.
The US and Germany provided Ukraine with Patriot systems last December, as Russia launched waves of attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.
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