Ukraine’s military has lost 18 aircraft since April 7 as part of the government’s efforts to rid eastern Ukraine of Kremlin-backed insurgents and Russian mercenaries, resulting in 89 deaths, and causing at least $250 million in damages, a statistical analysis by UNIAN news agency states.
Sixteen of the aircraft were shot down, while a Su-25 bomber jet crash landed in Dnipropetrovsk, and a Mi-8 helicopter crashed in Kharkiv Oblast for unexplained reasons.
According to UNIAN, a total of 10 helicopters were lost: five Mi-8s and five Mi-24s.
Eight planes perished: one An-30B, one An-26, one Il-76, one Su-24M, two MiG-29s, and two Su-25s.
The worst death toll took place on June 14 when 49 people died aboard an Il-76 transport plane. An additional 26 people died aboard five Mi-8 helicopters. Eleven servicemen were also wounded aboard aircraft and two remain missing in action.
Financially, Ukraine lost $75 million from five lost Mi-24 helicopters, according UNIAN’s calculations. An additional $60 million worth of damage was sustained over the two downed MiG-29 jets.
According to the Defense Ministry, two Su-25 jets were shot down while returning from completed missions.
The latest aircraft to get shot down was a Mi-24 helicopter on Aug. 20 over Luhansk Oblast. All the crew members died, stated National Security and Defense Council spokesperson Andriy Lysenko without specifying how many. Then on Aug. 17, pro-Russia separatists shot down the second MiG-29 Fulcrum in eastern Ukraine. The first was shot down on Aug. 7. Both were assigned to the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade.
The majority of aircraft were downed using shoulder-fired rocket launchers and anti-aircraft installations, according to various government agencies. The National Security and Defense Council has also accused Russia of shooting down aircraft from inside its territory with aircraft and radar-guided surface-to-air missile systems. Kremlin-backed insurgents are suspected of having used a “Buk” surface-to-air missile supplied from Russia to shoot down a Malaysian airliner in Donetsk Oblast on July 17 killing all 298 people on board, including 80 children.
Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in the eastern Ukrainian military conflict, including the downing of the commercial airliner.