TechUkrainian missile strike cripples Russian airbase in Crimea

Ukrainian missile strike cripples Russian airbase in Crimea

Ukrainian missile strike cripples Russian airbase in Crimea
Images source: © PAP | SERGEI ILNITSKY

6:32 AM EDT, May 16, 2024

On the night of May 14 to 15, Ukrainians launched a highly successful attack on the Belbek airbase in Crimea using ATACMS missiles. This strike not only inflicted significant damage but also prompted even the Russians to acknowledge losses, with reports of destroyed MiG-31 aircraft and compromised S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft systems.

The precise scale of the attack remains uncertain, but local residents reported hearing up to 20 explosions. In contrast, Russian sources, despite their penchant for propaganda, claimed to have shot down as many as 10 missiles. However, they did not intercept all the inbound projectiles, as corroborated by various Russian sources indicating that valuable equipment was indeed destroyed.

The list of damaged assets includes a demolished MiG-31, three damaged Su-27s, and critical elements of the base's security infrastructure, such as S-300 and S-400 launchers, support vehicles, and a 92N6E fire control radar associated with the S-400 system.

The attack on Belbek - an important success for Ukrainians

The exact variant of the MiG-31 destroyed is still unknown. Possibilities include the MiG-31BM, a modernized interceptor integrated with new radar and R-37 missiles, or the MiG-31K, capable of carrying Ch-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. Both variants represent some of the fastest combat aircraft currently in operation.

Previously, the Russians lost a MiG-31BM variant at the Belbek base due to a runway incident. According to Defence24, satellite imagery before the attack indicated that at least eight combat aircraft were stationed in unshielded positions at the base.

Residents reported hearing multiple explosions shortly after the attack, potentially indicating the destruction of ammunition depots. Satellite reconnaissance data from NASA's FIRMS (Fire Information for Resource Management System) support this hypothesis, identifying at least five distinct fire spots within the base area.

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