The Russian Air Force is reported to have lost three Su-34 fighter-bombers in the Kherson region.
The announcement was made by Lieutenant General Nikolai Oleshchuk, commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Details surrounding the incident remain unclear, as Oleshchuk did not specify whether the Su-34s were shot down in the air or targeted on the ground at an airfield.
The Telegram channel Fighterbomber, which is run by an individual associated with the Russian Air Force, has confirmed the loss of at least one aircraft and suggested that some pilots may have lost their lives in the incident.
According to the blogger, the Su-34s were allegedly brought down by a Ukrainian-operated, US-made Patriot anti-air defense system.
Unconfirmed photos have circulated on social media from one of the landing sites of the ejected Russian pilots, claiming that the crew survived.
/6. Russians publish photos from one of the landing sites of ejected Russian pilots. As they say, this crew survived. pic.twitter.com/Sggq5YV3vE— Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) December 22, 2023
The Sukhoi Su-34, nicknamed ‘Fullback’ by NATO, was developed in the 1980s and has been in production since 2005. Serving as a versatile fighter-bomber, it is used for conducting strike missions against air, sea and ground targets. A notable feature is its unique two-person configuration, with crew members seated side by side in the cockpit.
With a maximum payload capacity of approximately 8,000 kilograms (18,000 pounds), some sources suggest it can carry an impressive 12,000 kilograms (26,000 pounds) of ordnance. The Su-34 has played a pivotal role in the Russian Aerospace Forces during the invasion of Ukraine to conduct bombing missions from bases along the border such as Morozovsk and Malshevo.
According to the Oryx blog, which documents the visually confirmed loss of equipment during the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, 21 Su-34 strike aircraft have been lost in the conflict.