The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) brought down three more Russian Su-34 fighter bombers on Thursday, totalling 12 Su planes brought down in the last 13 days and 13 Russian planes overall, including an A-50U radar aircraft.

Early in the morning, Ukrainian Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk reported downing the first fighter bomber in the Eastern direction. 

“Today, Feb. 29, is a date that occurs once every four years, but it is already a familiar day for Russians with the loss of another plane. Minus Su-34 in the Eastern direction!” Ukrainian Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk reported via Telegram.

“Thanks for the work! Victory on earth is forged in heaven!” he wrote.

This message was shortly followed by the next one, reporting on the downing of two more SU-34 jets. 

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"They don't seem to get it! Russian pilots draw no conclusions! Today, at about 9.00 in the Avdiivka and Mariupol directions, two more invaders' Su-34 were destroyed! Together - to victory!" Oleshchuk added. 

At the same time, it is still unclear what the fate of the Russian pilots of the downed Su-34 is. Also, the Air Force did not specify which weapon was used to shoot down the Russian planes.

The Sukhoi Su-34 (NATO: Fullback) is Russia’s premier frontline fighter bomber, designed primarily for launching laser-guided bombs or long-range guided missiles in precision strikes on ground targets.

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Equipped with radar allowing for the use of modern Russian air-to-air missiles, the Su-34, priced at around $36 million each, stands as one of the Russian military’s costliest aircraft.

This is the 10th Su plane brought down in the last 11 days and the 11th Russian plane overall, including an A-50U radar aircraft.

Ukraine’s Air Force had downed a Russian A-50U long-range radar detection aircraft near the Sea of Azov using a Soviet S-200 anti-aircraft system.

The significant series of blows against Russian forces’ aircraft started on Feb. 17, when Ukrainian forces reportedly shot down three Russian fighter aircraft – two Su-34s and one Su-35 – over the Donetsk region.

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Forbes reported that Ukraine may soon exhaust its top-tier air-defense missiles due to their role in shooting down Russian fighter jets.

The repeated downings are a significant setback for Russian forces, who struggle to produce more than a few dozen new warplanes each year due to foreign sanctions. As noted by Forbes, they are losing jets 20 times faster than they can replace them.

Forbes speculates that Ukraine’s air-defense success may be attributed to deploying American-made Patriot missile launchers, 25-mile-range NASAMS surface-to-air missile batteries, and others more aggressively.

The risk in this strategy is that the Patriot and NASAMS batteries use US-made missiles, and Ukraine reportedly hasn’t received any ammunition from the United States since late December.

“In other words, Ukraine eventually – possibly soon – will run out of its best air-defense missiles,” Forbes noted.

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