Russia confirms that the second A-50 early warning aircraft was downed by the Ukrainian Patriot missile defense system

A-50 aircraft.

A Moscow court has issued an arrest warrant for Colonel Mykola Dzyaman, commander of Ukraine’s 138th Air Defense Missile Brigade, accusing him of ordering the downing of a Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft.

The incident occurred on February 23, 2024, destroying an A-50U aircraft and the death of 10 crew members.

Contrary to earlier public statements by Russian officials, which attributed the crash to friendly fire from a Russian air defense system, the court’s findings now indicate otherwise.

The A-50U, a crucial airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, was initially reported by Russian officials to have been downed by friendly fire. However, the recent court decision indicates Ukrainian responsibility. This aligns with recent American reports confirming that another A-50U was downed by a Patriot missile system in January 2024.

The loss of these high-value assets, both attributed to long-range air defense systems, has raised significant concerns within Russian military circles. The incidents underscore the capability of the Patriot system to engage and destroy high-value targets at unexpected ranges, challenging the assumptions of Russian aerospace defense planning.

A senior US Army officer has confirmed that Ukraine used a Patriot missile system to down a Russian A-50 spy plane back in January.

Speaking at the Fires Symposium event last month, Colonel Rosanna Clemente, the assistant chief of staff of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, said that Patriot launchers were “being used to protect static sites and critical national infrastructure” in Ukraine.

“Others are being moved around and doing some really historic things that I haven’t seen in 22 years of being an air defender. And one of them is a ‘SAMbush,'” she said, referring to surface-to-air missile ambushes that Ukrainians have been performing.

“They’re doing that with extremely mobile Patriot systems that were donated by the Germans because the systems are all mounted on the trucks.”

She added that Ukrainian anti-aircraft teams used this tactic “to engage the first A-50 C2 system back in January.”

On the same day, Ukraine also claimed to have shot down an Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post.

The A-50, produced by manufacturer Beriev, is a crucial spy plane that allows Russia to detect incoming Ukrainian missiles and identify ground targets. The aircraft can also act as a mobile command-and-control center to direct Russia’s air strikes and other attacks. It has a range of over 3,000 miles and can stay airborne for about eight hours.

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