Satellite images show the impact of Ukraine’s first-ever ATACMS missile strikes on the Russian-occupied Berdyansk airfield.
The images – captured by the US-based Earth imaging company Planet Labs and reviewed by investigative journalists from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – reveal substantial damage, particularly on a section of the airfield's runway that had been used for helicopter deployments.
On Oct. 17, the Ukrainian military, for the first time, deployed ATACMS long-range missiles targeting Russian airfields and ammunition depots within Ukraine's occupied areas.
Initial reports surfaced in Western media, with subsequent confirmation from the White House regarding the use of ATACMS missiles by the Ukrainian military. The military reportedly launched 18 missiles.
Ukrainian Special Operations Forces acknowledged their operation in Berdyansk and Luhansk on the same day, saying there were substantial losses on the Russian side – including nine helicopters, an air defense launcher, an ammunition warehouse, and damaged runways. Ukraine also said Russian forces had suffered personnel losses in the operation.
Aircraft known to have been based by the Russian Air Force at Berdyansk airport include Ka-52 and Mi-8 general-purpose helicopters, and Mi-24 and Mi-28 helicopter gunships.
Video recorded by residents purportedly in the vicinity recorded anti-aircraft fire in a dark sky and possible anti-aircraft missile launches, followed by three heavy, extended explosions. Social media reports said the Ukrainian strikes were shortly after 2:30 a.m.
The Berdyansk airport strike and substantial Russian Air Force equipment damage were widely confirmed by Russian milbloggers, with one describing it as “one of the most serious blows of all time in the Northern Military District. If not the most serious” since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
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