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A-50 and Il-22 downing: How critical loss of pilots became for Russia

A-50 and Il-22 downing: How critical loss of pilots became for Russia Photo: how critical the loss of pilots was for Russia due to the downing of the A-50 and Il-22 (
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The loss of pilots after the downing of Russian A-50 and Il-22 aircraft created certain problems for the occupiers. In particular, this incident has slightly reduced the capabilities of the enemy, according to the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force Command, Yurii Ihnat.

"I've already looked at the 'eternal flight, brothers' section in their public pages, where obituaries are already appearing slowly. We see that there is a colonel there. But first of all, it is young officers. I was even surprised, to be honest, that junior lieutenants were on board those planes. And any loss, even if it's a young officer, is a graduate of a military university, where they study for 5 years. Plus, for several more years, he has been practicing directly in the troops, and he has at least 2 years of combat experience, unfortunately, in combat operations. We are talking about the A-50, and also about the Il-22. Two sides were destroyed there," he said.

The spokesperson notes that this may indeed create some inconvenience and some problems for the occupiers.

"But I'll tell you this: those, let's say, not isolated crews for these aircraft, there are at least 2 for each aircraft. This is the practice all over the world. They have fewer airplanes and fewer crews. And this has made us feel better, as their capabilities have somewhat decreased," Ihnat stated.

At the same time, he emphasizes that the new Russian A-50 aircraft soon appeared in the Sea of Azov again, "but it did not fly so close."

"And the closer it flies to our coast, the further it can conduct radar reconnaissance in the airspace of our country. That's why he doesn't dare to do it anymore, and that's good," Ihnat says.

The new A-50 that replaced the downed one is not technically new at all, "it's just different, that's all."

"They have a few of these boards. Let's say a few. We are not talking about dozens. It was about eight, it was about five serviceable modernized ones. Different data. But this is approximately the number. If it's five, then it's minus one, and that's four. This is a rough estimate. That's why another one flew in its place. Sometimes A-50s simultaneously flew three missions on the outskirts of our country: in the north, east, and south. Sometimes they fly together with the Il-22, which is an air command post and also receives information from the same A-50 to control the troops," the spokesperson says.

Destruction of Russian A-50 and Il-22 aircraft

On January 14, RBC-Ukraine reported, citing sources in the Ukrainian Defense Forces, that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had shot down a Russian A-50 over the Sea of Azov and an IL-22. On January 15, the destruction of the two planes was officially confirmed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

Earlier, Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for the Southern Military Command, said that the downing of the A-50 radar detection aircraft and the Russian IL-22 air command post could delay future missile strikes by the invaders. At the same time, she called it a "loud statement" that Ukrainian forces have full control over the airspace of the Azov and Black Seas after the downing of Russian aircraft.

As a reminder, on January 19, a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft was spotted in the Sea of Azov. On January 21, it became known that the commander of a Russian aircraft was killed as a result of damage to the IL-22 air command post over the Sea of Azov.

Read more about why the destruction of the A-50 is important and what makes this operation unique in RBC-Ukraine.