TechUkraine downs 11 Russian aircraft in February, signaling aerial dominance

Ukraine downs 11 Russian aircraft in February, signaling aerial dominance

Su-34 - illustrative picture
Su-34 - illustrative picture
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons
10:16 AM EST, February 29, 2024
"February 29, a date that comes once every four years, has now become infamous for the Russians with the loss of another plane to the east," shared Oleschuk. On February 27, he reported the downing of two Russian Su-34 tactical bombers, totaling 11 Russian aircraft lost in February, including Su-35 fighters and an A-50 Beriev early warning aircraft. Forbes highlighted that Russia is losing aircraft "20 times faster than they can replace them," attributing this to Western sanctions affecting the Russian aviation industry.

Ukrainian Aerial Successes

The exact reasons behind Ukraine's aerial victories remain speculative. Forbes suggests that Ukraine might have reallocated some Patriot launchers to mobile air defense units that traverse the front line quickly. There, they target Russian aircraft with PAC-2 missiles from a range of 90 miles and then swiftly reposition to elude enemy detection. The NASAMS systems' deployment closer to the front lines could also contribute.

The recent downing of an A-50 plane about 124 miles away implies Ukraine might possess weapons capable of even longer ranges. Such weapons could include modified S-200 systems and Soviet-era long-range anti-aircraft missiles reaching up to 186 miles. Coupled with the "blinding" of Russian forces—through the destruction of another AWACS, the A-50—operating over Ukraine becomes tougher for Russia, particularly with the scarcity of A-50 planes creating "blind spots" in the sky, as Forbes notes.

The Su-34 tactical bombers may be operating with limited situational awareness, making them more vulnerable to Ukrainian forces. The Su-34 (NATO code: Fullback), intended to replace the aging Su-24 front bombers, measures over 75 feet long, has a 48-foot wingspan, and stands 20 feet tall. Weighing 39,021 pounds empty and 84,217 pounds at takeoff, it can reach speeds of about 1,180 mph and fly up to 55,774 feet. Equipped with a 30 mm GSz-30-1 autocannon, the Su-34 also boasts 12 armament points for an array of weapons, making it a key asset in bombing raids on Ukraine.

Related content