While early satellite photos show widespread damage at Saky, a Russian airbase near Novofedorivka in Crimea, Russian officials double down on claims that no aircraft were damaged or lost.
Several investigators claim up to 11 destroyed fighter jets and attack aircraft can be counted in the photographs, in addition to destroyed warehouses and hangars.
Close up images of the damaged equipment pic.twitter.com/dCDgP5eDAN— Benjamin Pittet (@COUPSURE) August 10, 2022
The images, released by Planet Labs, show a large apron in the southwest of the airfield littered with debris and burnt-out husks of military jets.
At least four craters, either from munitions impacts or other kinds of explosions, can be seen in the area north of the apron. Several aircraft that had been stationed in aircraft revetments, special zones fortified by blast walls, appear to have also been destroyed.
Numerous videos that appear to show damage to various other objects, including burnt-out civilian cars and buildings with damaged windows in the vicinity of the airfield have also surfaced. Additionally, at least one video shows a destroyed Sukhoi Su-24 strike jet on the apron of the airfield.
Original video pic.twitter.com/nZwlxksX22— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 9, 2022
Various assessments provide differing figures on the extent of the damage. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, approximately 10 aircraft were destroyed in the attack, and at least 60 people serving at the airbase were killed.
Based on the satellite photos, Oryx blog estimates that four Su-30SM fighter jets and six Su-24 strike jets were destroyed or damaged. Twitter account OSINTtechnical, which tracks open-source intelligence on the conflict, estimated that three Su-30s, one Su-27 or Su-30, and four Su-24s had been destroyed. Ukraine Weapons Tracker, another open-source intelligence account, counts approximately five Su-30SMs and six Su-24s were lost, with the possibility that another four were also destroyed.
In the meantime, Russia’s Ministry of Defense continues to claim that no aircraft were damaged during what it is calling “an incident” at the base.
Russian state news agency TASS reports that, according to ministry spokesperson, a violation of fire safety rules caused “several aircraft munitions” to explode, with no casualties or damage to military assets.
Other reports in Russian media refer to local health services, saying that at least one person was killed and 13 injured during the explosions.