Ukraine says it shot down a Russian A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) jet on Sunday over the Azov Sea.
On the evening of January 14, reports emerged on Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels regarding the downing of a Russian A-50 jet and the damage inflicted on an Il-22M.
This information was partially confirmed by the Commander of the Ukrainian Air Forces, Mykola Oleshchuk, and sources within the Ukrainian government.
In a terse communication, the Ukrainian Commander shared an emoji representing an aircraft and conveyed, “This is for you, for the Dnipro! Burn in hell, inhuman! P.S. Details to follow,” indicating a retaliatory action.
The outlet “Militarniy,” citing authoritative sources, reported the loss of the Russian long-range radar detection and control aircraft A-50 with the registration RF-50601 “Red” over Ukrainian airspace. Additionally, damage to the Il-22M11 command and control aircraft was reported.
The A-50 was reportedly downed shortly after entering the patrol zone near Kyrylivka around 21:10-21:15 on January 14, according to RBC. The aircraft vanished from radar and ceased responding to tactical aviation requests. Subsequently, a Russian Su-30 pilot observed a fire and descent of an unidentified aircraft.
As of now, the Russian Ministry of Defense has not officially commented on the claims of two of its rare airborne command platforms being downed. However, Russian military bloggers with influential connections have mourned the reported losses.
In a related development, Russian military figure Ilya Tumanov, through his influential channel ‘Fighterbomber,’ confirmed an incident involving a Russian A-50 radar jet over the Azov Sea.
The Beriev A-50, with the NATO reporting name Mainstay, serves as Russia’s airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport. The situation surrounding the downing of these aircraft adds complexity to an already delicate regional security landscape.