LATEST: Double Shootdown of Russian Spy and Command Aircraft – Expensive Losses but Still Plenty of Questions

Ukraine has said two Russian airborne command aircraft were shot down on Sunday evening in what amounts to one of the worst days for Moscow’s air force since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Ukrainian media on Sunday evening reported an A-50 radar early-warning plane was downed on Sunday evening shortly after take-off over the Sea of Azov in the Kyrylivka area of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.

A Russian Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post was also damaged in an attack and forced to make an emergency landing in Anapa on the Russian side of the Sea of Azov.

Sources in Ukraine's Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) confirmed to Kyiv Post that the two aircraft had been hit, saying “we confirm the fact” but added: “We do not comment on the means used.”


HUR did not provide further details and it is not known what weapons downed the two planes.

Later on Monday, Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, said in a post on social media: "soldiers of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine" destroyed the plane, adding: "Thanks to the Air Force for the excellently planned and conducted operation in Azov region! Glory to Ukraine!"

He also released radar footage of the planes' flight paths.


According to RBC-Ukraine, the A-50 radar early-warning plane disappeared from radars and stopped responding to radio calls, with the pilot of a Russian Su-30 fighter jet confirming the aircraft had been hit.

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Just a few minutes earlier, a Russian Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post was damaged with RBC posting what it claimed was an SOS call made by the crew of the aircraft, in which they said: “Urgently requesting ambulance and fire crew.”

SEE ALSO: A Quick Guide to Russia’s Downed A-50 and Ilyushin Il-22M Command Planes

According to open-source data, Russia had just nine A50 planes in service, and 30 IL-22Ms.


File photo of Russsian Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post. PHOTO: Wikicommons.

The loss of two command planes in a single day would mark the worst 24 hours for Russia’s air force since the launch of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The previous record would be a day last month when Ukraine downed three Russian supersonic Su-34 strike aircraft.

As in Sunday’s attacks, the weapon system used were not disclosed but speculation suggested the possible use of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system.

How might the planes have been downed on Sunday evening?

Immediately after reports of the downing of the two aircraft were received milbloggers and mainstream media began to speculate on what happened.

The question on everyone’s keyboard was how Ukrainian air defense had been able to hit targets well beyond the range of their known positions.

One theory voiced by Forbes and others was that, because in recent weeks Ukraine had been able to step up its use of electronic warfare to impede Russian air and missile activity, the planes had inadvertently strayed outside of their usual “safe zones” bringing them into range.

Another suggestion was that an intrepid Ukraine pilot or pilots had managed to stage a “sneaky” hit and run attack using air-to-air missiles before returning to safety over Ukrainian held territory.


A third suggestion made on a Ukrainian Telegram channel was that the IL-22 had actually been hit by its own air defense assets deployed to protect the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to mainland Russia.

One theory that has yet to be voiced, as the reports said the A-50 had been hit “shortly after take-off,” was that one of Ukraine’s special forces teams or a partisan group had got close enough to use a man-portable air defense (MANPAD) missile or other weapon to hit it.

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Comments (4)
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

@Jack Griffin, Folks here is some interesting info about the YouTube site "jack" keeps trying to direct you to (when he's not busy saying the word Briben, pushing MAGA conspiracies or spewing profanity at other Ukraine supporters). 

The "Suchomimus" channel was created on September 11, 2021. Interestingly the same calendar day as the USA's World Trade Center was destroyed and just slightly before the period that russia started its buildup of forces along Ukraine's border. The owner however did not upload any video's until February 24, 2022. The EXACT day the current Russian invasion started. What were they waiting for? Why did they build a YouTube channel solely to subsequently used for war coverage around the same time russia was building its pre war forces? 

The first video uploaded showed Ukraine's Nikolaev Airport getting destroyed. Since then multiple multiple uploads a day occur many of which could only come from a networked entity covering multiple war fronts.

The site now has ~100k subscribers one of which is obviously "jack".

Perhaps its a legit site...perhaps not. I would not take the risk myself. You have more reputable sources for such info. 

The latest propaganda techniques seem to be to say something Ukraine supportive to gain a following, then slowly work in content that would be supportive to MRGA's agenda. When one calls them out they refute with profanity.
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Do I smell the scent of a solitary F-16?
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Some of the sugegstions in the article are a bit of a stretch. The IL-22 was hit by its own air defence assets on the same day as two A=50s happened t be downed by some other means?

Maybe, but seems unlikely.

Man-portable weapons used? Maybe, but also seems unlikely.

Two A-50s strayed out of their safety zone on the same day - and an IL-22 as well? Hmmm.

The most likely explanation is that there's something new at play. Especially since Ukraine recently also shot down down fighters which surprised everyone.

The longer they keep it secret, the better. So best not to speculate too much perhaps?

Thomas Davie
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@Cjris, I’m feeling pretty crappy this morning b/c it’s been 2 days since my last dialysis; but this news cheers me up immensely. I won’t speculate on how these units were taken out, but well done Ukraine. How many A-50s has Russia lost since the start of the war? 2? 3?
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Like Anna from Ukraine said. Pooptins brain was made in Soviet Union times. Kremlin state propoganda will say their planes landed with no damage. Pilots and crew are shaken , but perfectly fine. Soon RT news will tell the orcs that Russia downed 11 F16 fighter jets. Etc. Nice expensive gifts from Ukraine to the Kremlin. Iam lovin it . Mr. Zelensky and team you are all doing top notch work in all departments. A great Monday to all in the free world.