Drones hit Russian aviation plant in Taganrog, destroying $350 million Beriev A-50 early warning aircraft

Explosions echoed Taganrog, Russia. The target may have been a local aviation plant, involved in the repair of the A-50 aircraft (Photo:Mash / Telegram)

Explosions resonated through the night in the Russian city of Taganrog, with the potential target being a local aviation plant specifically engaged in the repair of A-50 aircraft, Rostov Oblast governor Vasily Golubev said on Telegram on March 9.

Russian authorities claimed the Ukrainian drones carried out the attack. Russian air defense systems allegedly repelled the attack, said Golubev. One Emergency Situations Ministry worker sustained injuries during ground aftermath operations.

Local Telegram channels said the PJSC Beriev Aircraft Company, which repairs A-50 AEW&C aircraft for the Russian Aerospace Forces, might have been affected. Russian military bloggers speculate that the aviation plant was the target of a widespread attack.

Ukrainian special forces conducted a successful operation in Taganrog, targeting the local aircraft manufacturing plant with drones, Serhiy Bratchuk, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Volunteer Army South said on Telegram on March 9.

“Perhaps the most interesting is the modernization of the A-50 to A-50U, the same highly expensive and crucial aircraft for the Russian Aerospace Forces, two of which have already been shot down,” Bratchuk said.

“Such powerful strikes can seriously impede the operation of the plant, and for quite a long time.”

A big number of drones with explosive payloads hit the workshops of the plant, causing a fire he said.

“Whether it has been extinguished at this time is unknown,” Bratchuk said.

“Whether the A-50U nearby was affected is also unknown, but the geolocation of at least one video is known, showing a flash from a drone strike either on the assembly shop or workshop No. 3. However, there were several hits, not just one or two, significantly more. This is an incredibly successful operation using kamikaze drones within the territory of the Russian Federation.”

The January 14 downing of the A-50U, which was reportedly knocked out of the sky around the same time as an Ilyushin IL-22 combat control aircraft, came just days after the Brits said Russia was increasingly putting the command and control planes at risk to gather vital intelligence for targeting Ukrainian air assets and radar.

Another Russian AEW&C aircraft, A-50, was shot down on 23 February over the Sea of Azov, Defense Intelligence of Ukraine said in a statement posted on X.

The Ukrainian air force destroyed the A-50U, a newly modernized Russian version of the aircraft, which Russia uses for long-range radar detection, control, and guidance for strikes on Ukraine using missiles from strategic aviation.

The statement said the downing of the A-50U is another “serious blow” to Moscow’s potential and capabilities.

Ukrainian forces have already destroyed two A-50 aircraft since the beginning of 2024. The cost of one such aircraft is over $350 million.

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