Russia’s major aircraft loss: Su-34, Su-35 & two Mi-8s downed near Ukraine border

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Russian Air Force has reportedly suffered the largest loss of aircraft since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Two Russian fighter jets and two transport helicopters were downed near the Ukraine border on May 13, 2023.

A Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber, a Su-35 fighter, and two Mil Mi-8 helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces were downed in Russia’s Bryansk region near the border with Ukraine, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported.

The aircraft were part of the same air group and were supposed to carry out a missile and bomb attack on targets in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported. The helicopters were also meant to secure the fighters and evacuate their crews if they were shot down.

The report suggests that the aircraft were shot down almost simultaneously. All crews were killed.

Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for shooting down the aircraft. Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, commented on the incident on Twitter, calling the crashes “justice” and “instant karma”.

The downing of four aircraft in one day marks the worst losses for Russia since the early days of the war in Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military has lost over 70 aircraft, General James B. Hecker, the commander of United States Air Forces in Europe, disclosed in March 2023.

Developed in the 1980s, the Sukhoi Su-34 ‘Fullback’ is a fighter-bomber capable of conducting strike missions on air, sea, and ground targets. It is operated by a crew of two people sitting side-by-side.

The Su-35 is touted as one of the most capable Russian aircraft. It was developed in the 1990s based on the Su-27M. The jet features thrust-vectoring engine nozzles, a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar, new electronic warfare and targeting systems, and other improvements to the original design.

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