Ukrainian forces carried out a drone strike on Russia’s Pskov airport on Wednesday, damaging – and possibly even destroying – four Ilyushin Il-76 heavy transport aircraft. The planes reportedly caught fire in the attack.
What makes this attack notable is that it took place near the city of Pskov, which is more than 600km (372 miles) away from Ukraine, and is close to the border with Estonia. The local governor said the Russian military was repelling the attack, while a video showing a large fire and explosions has been shared on social media.
This was reportedly one of several different drone attacks on targets in Russia or Russian-held territory.
Significant Strike – One of Several
The Kremlin has downplayed the attacks and claimed the strike on the Pskov airport was repelled by the Russian Defense Ministry’s air defense units. State media reported that there were no casualties, but added that the airport will remain closed throughout Wednesday.
However, the Kremlin did acknowledge that “Il-76 military transport aircraft had caught fire,” and that a firefighting effort was underway. Kyiv has claimed the aircraft may be beyond repair.
“The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine has confirmed the destruction of 4 Il-76 planes during last night’s attack on Pskov. Each aircraft costs about $86 million. How many more aircrafts are still damaged is still being established – representative of @DI_Ukraine Andrii Yusov,” Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en), advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said in a post on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) on Wednesday morning while sharing video of the drone strike.
Per Newsweek, the eastern European news outlet Nexta reported that seven planes in total had been affected by the strikes. Two Ilyushins had been completely destroyed, another four had been damaged and a Tupolev Tu-22 supersonic bomber had also been damaged, the report claimed.
The Pskov region was previously targeted by drones in late May.
The Il-76 Aircraft
The Ilyshin Il-76 (NATO reporting name Candid) is a multi-purpose, fixed-wing, four-engine turbofan strategic airlifter designed by the Soviet Union’s Ilyushin Design Bureau as a commercial freighter in 1967. The aircraft remains in use throughout the world, and the Russian military as well as border services and National Guard have continued to operate the aircraft.
The airframe is noted for its ability to operate from unpaved runways and thus has proven useful as an emergency response transport for civilian evacuations as well as for humanitarian aid and disaster relief around the world.
Other Drone Strikes In Russia
On Wednesday, Moscow also claimed it had repelled a drone attack on Central Russia, and reportedly shot down three Ukrainian drones above the Bryansk Region in west Russia and one above the Oryol Region in Central Russia. Airspace over Moscow and the neighboring Tula oblasts remains closed at press time.
In addition, Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozzhayev reported that forces of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet had been repelling a drone attack near the main bay of the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
Ukraine has carried out dozens of drone strikes on Russian targets in recent weeks, and last Friday, the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet base was the target of the largest drone attack on the facility to date.
Russia Strikes Back on Kyiv
The Russian military also launched a missile and drone attack against Kyiv on Wednesday morning that Al Jazeera described as the “most powerful strike” on the Ukrainian capital in months. Two people were killed and another wounded, the city’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Ukrainian air defenses claimed to have destroyed more than 20 missiles and drones involved in the attack but added that two security guards were killed by falling debris.
The drone war drones on.
Author Experience and Expertise
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.
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