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Russian Radar Plane Down - Did Ukraine Do It?

Serge AJan 18, 2024 (0)

The proclaimed A50 radar plane was introduced to the Russian army plane fleet as an answer to the American Boeing E-3A Sentry a.k.a. AWACS or Airborne Warning and Control System. In Layman's terms, this is a flying super radar that senses different intensities of electromagnetic fields. Almost everything has an electromagnetic field but of different intensity. The flying radar then can identify the electromagnetic intensity of the objects on the ground and in the air and report in almost map-like manner, the location, quantity, as well as quality of the objects that it sees.

The order of events went as follows. Late evening of January 14th, Telegram news channels started reporting on a Russian A50 plane that just disappeared from the radar screens in an instant and an IL-22 Airborne Command plane went off radar in minutes as well. It was reported that there was somewhat of a panic coming through the Russian intercepted radio communication streams. The Russians immediately started search and rescue efforts. Come morning, it became known that the A50 crashed directly into the Azov Sea while the IL-22 command plane emergency landed in a Russian civilian airport with serious damage.

Soon after the image of the damaged command plane appeared, there were reports that almost half of the crew in the command plane were casualties and the rest were wounded. Sources reported that among the dead was a high ranking officer. But, it is Russia and no other information was released. As a matter of fact it has been 48 hours since this incident was first reported and still there is no factual information to be found in Russian media regarding this incident. It almost seems like the “if we ignore it, it'll go away” strategy was enacted and they are hoping that people will just forget about it in due time.

The A50 is a fairly rare plane for the Russians in that they can't afford to periodically just lose one. It has been reported that before the full scale invasion only 8 planes of such type were on the Russian army's balance and an unknown amount was in fact operational. Private sources report that out of the 8 there were only 4 operational. One was severely damaged in a drone attack operation reportedly performed by the Ukrainian supporting Belarus partisans on the territory of Belarus. The other was destroyed in flight over the Azov Sea on January 14th.

The very next day, Russian supported Telegram channels reported that it was friendly fire from one of their anti-aircraft defense systems. Although, it is unclear how this actually happened. The A50, supposedly, has direct communication with all Russian AAW (Anti-aircraft Warfare) systems. As a matter of fact the Russian AAW land systems are fed information from the plane and back. It is hard to imagine that something went so wrong in their communication chain, that would result in such a crucial error. There was another proliferated version that assumed that it was not friendly fire but rather the Ukrainians using the the United States developed Patriot AAW system to take out the planes. But, this theory has physical limits. The distance from the Ukrainian controlled position to the location of the A50 flight route would have to be over 160 kilometers, which is the maximum distance of the most advanced rocket systems for the Patriot AAW, which officially Ukraine did not even get from its partners. This supposed distance of 160 kilometers assumes that you would not bring the Patriot directly to the front line of course as the threat of losing such a system by far outweighs the reward, but it would have to be very close to the front line indeed.

Officially, the Ukrainian Armed Forces assumed the responsibility for shooting down one plane and severely damaging the other, although never mentioning the means by which they did it. Surprisingly, Ukrainian news channels with Telegram news channels alike did not come up with their own version of how the UAF took down those planes. Instead, they just reported the Russian version of events.

Private sources from the Ukrainian military shared that this operation was planned for months in advance. More interestingly, the means that UAF used to take down the planes is said to be an internally modified and upgraded Soviet legacy rocket that the UAF always had and which underwent severe modification before it was used. The rocket alone did not do the job though. There were secret diversionary actions undertaken of setting up the rocket launcher in position within reach of the usual route of the A50. As it is reported in confidence, the launch system has been in place for many weeks if not months waiting for that perfect moment.

Regardless of the means which decommission the A50, the result is beneficial for Ukraine. This plane, when airborne, had a one-and-only mission. It scanned for possible targets for the next aerial attack by the Russian hypersonic missiles, which as many have already understood brings pain, death and destruction to the Ukrainian people.

Will this prevent the Russian from slinging another plane just like that over to a similar location, so it can continue to scan for more targets? It probably will not, but the next Russian A50 will surely have to keep more distance between its flight route and Ukrainian soil. Most importantly, the UAF are not planning to call it quits on the hunt for the next A50. As the Ukrainian private source humorously stated - “2 down, 2 to go”.


Welcome to the discussion.