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UK Intelligence assesses strike on Russian A-50 aircraft significance

UK Intelligence assesses strike on Russian A-50 aircraft significance Photo: A-50 airplane (Russian media)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The drone attack on the hangar in Taganrog, where the A-50 aircraft was located, shows that Ukrainian operations can achieve strategically important goals even in well-protected facilities, according to the UK Ministry of Defense.

On March 9, the Ukrainian military attacked the territory of the repair complex in Taganrog, Rostov region, Russia, with drones. The Taganrog site produces, modernizes, maintains, and repairs Russian Air Force A-50U long-range radar detection and control (LRDC) aircraft.

According to UK intelligence, this site is of wider strategic importance to Russia, as it also maintains long-range strategic bombers, and transport aircraft, and is a test center for the next generation of A-100 airborne surveillance and control aircraft. The constant presence of active air defense around this facility demonstrates its importance.

"The loss of the A-50U from Russian operations highly likely significantly degrades situational awareness," the report says.

Images of the damage caused by the attack, which was circulated on the Internet, show damage to two large buildings belonging to the A-50U fleet, which were most likely used to shelter the aircraft during periods of overhaul, the intelligence report said.

"Two weeks after the loss of a second A-50U, the fleet highly likely remains grounded from flying in support of Ukraine operations. This attack demonstrates that Ukrainian operations can still reach strategically significant targets within Russia, even when such sites are thought to be protected, whether in the air or on the land," the UK Ministry of Defense says.

A-50 elimination

On January 14, the Ukrainian Armed Forces shot down a Russian A-50 over the Sea of Azov.

Then, on February 23, another A-50 was shot down over the Sea of Azov. Intelligence sources said that the A-50U is a new modernized version of the aircraft, and its cost is about $350 million.

In addition, on March 9, drones attacked an aircraft factory in Taganrog, damaging a hangar with an A-50 aircraft.

According to RBC-Ukraine's sources, the Russians have 5 serviceable A-50s and A-50Us in their arsenal that can perform missions. However, after the second A-50 was hit, they no longer flew near Ukraine.

Read more about the uniqueness of the A-50 in RBC-Ukraine's article.