Dark Day for the Russian Air Force – Four Aircraft Lost in Single Day: According to reports and video on social media, though Saturday may not go down as a day that will live in infamy, it was still the worst day for the Russian Air Force in decades.
The Kremlin lost two Mi-8 transport helicopters, a Su-34 fighter/bomber, and a Su-35 air superiority fighter. All three were shot down over the Bryansk region of Western Russia by air-to-air or surface-to-air missiles that were launched from within Ukraine.
The pilots and aircrew of all four aircraft were reportedly killed.
Russian propagandists on social media quickly responded to the news, posting on Telegram, “To cut off rumors. Two Mi-8s, one Su-35 and one Su-34 were shot down. We will avenge everyone, we will kill everyone.”
The Tass news agency had also acknowledged that the Su-34 warplane crashed in the Bryansk region boarding Ukraine, per Reuters. The downing of an Su-34 (NATO reporting name: Fullback) – a Soviet-origin twin-engine, twin-seat, all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft – came just weeks after another one of the aircraft was involved in a “friendly fire” incident.
On April 20 of this year, the crew of an Su-34 accidentally bombed the Russian city of Belgorod, located on the border with Ukraine. It resulted in a 65-foot-wide crater in the city’s central district, and destroyed several automobiles, while it also damaged nearby buildings.
Russian media has also confirmed the crash of one of the Mi-8 transport helicopters, but the loss of the aircraft was blamed on an engine fire. That crash comes just a day after two pilots were killed after Mi-28N military helicopter crashed in the Russian-occupied Crimea. That incident was also attributed to equipment failure.
The loss of the Su-35 (NATO reporting name Flanker-E) has not been independently confirmed.
Russian Aircraft Lost to Date
The losses of Russian aircraft have been significantly smaller in number than that of tanks and other ground vehicles. However, as of March, the Kremlin’s forces had lost more aircraft than Ukraine – with Russia’s losses exceeding 70 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, compared to an estimated 60 from Ukraine, according to the top U.S. Air Force commander in Europe.
“Russian, as well as the Ukrainian, success in integrated air and missile defense have made much of those aircraft worthless,” Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa and NATO’s Allied Air Command, said on March 6 during the AFA Warfare Symposium, Air & Space Magazine had reported.
“[Russia has] downed over 60 Ukrainian aircraft,” Hecker added. “Ukraine’s downed over 70 Russian aircraft. So both of their integrated air and missile defense, especially when you’re talking about going against aircraft, they’ve been very effective. And that’s why they’re not flying over one another’s country.”
The Kremlin has also seen a number of its aircraft come under attack on the ground within Russia – targeted by Ukrainian drones, while earlier this month, anti-Putin resistance forces reportedly attempted to sabotage an Su-24 supersonic bomber that was located at the Sukhoi aircraft factory at Novosibirsk, located 1,800 miles east of Ukraine in Siberia.
According to Russian Sources today has been the Worst Day in Decades for the Russian Air Force with 2 Mi-8 Transport Helicopters, 1 Su-34 Fighter/Bomber, and 1 Su-35 Air-Defense Fighter being Shot Down over the Bryansk Region of Western Russia by what is claimed to have been… pic.twitter.com/bkStfvQCDf
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) May 13, 2023
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A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.