TechUkrainians reported to bring down Russian Il-76 transport with Patriot missile, sources say

Ukrainians reported to bring down Russian Il‑76 transport with Patriot missile, sources say

Il-76 - Illustrative photo
Il-76 - Illustrative photo
Images source: © Getty Images | NurPhoto
4:22 AM EST, February 9, 2024

To recap, the Russian Il-76 crashed in the Belgorod Oblast, which is adjacent to Ukraine. The actual cause of the crash remains uncertain. Initially, Russian reports indicated that there were 74 people, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, on board. However, Ukrainian sources dispute this, asserting that the aircraft was transporting missiles for the S-300 air defense system.

Just before the end of January, Russian news agency TASS claimed that data recovered from the Il-76's black box "confirms the aircraft experienced external interference," suggesting it was shot down mid-flight.

Citing their private sources, The New York Times now suggests that the Il-76 was downed by a Patriot missile supplied by a European ally. There's still no official report, but according to various sources, "the claims of a Patriot missile being used are accurate."

The Patriot missiles mentioned are, in fact, weapons that have been employed multiple times in Ukraine to intercept Russian airborne objects. It's speculated that these same Patriots might have contributed to downing an A-50 and possibly Kh-47 Kinzhal missiles.

This American land-to-air missile system can reach a maximum range of 100 miles. Depending on the type of missile, a Patriot can accelerate to Mach 5 and operate at a maximum altitude of 79,000 feet. Such capabilities make these missiles capable of intercepting almost any airborne enemy weapon or aircraft. Notably, the Patriot system also includes the AN/MPQ-53 radar, which can track up to 125 objects simultaneously and detect them from up to 62 miles away.

The Ilyushin Il-76 that was downed is among the world's largest aircraft, a type which is becoming less common in the Russian army. As recent as 2021, Moscow had an estimated 112 of these planes, but their numbers have dwindled during the war in Ukraine. The Il-76 has been in production since 1974 and operates using four jet engines.

The enormous cargo space of 8,300 cubic feet can carry loads weighing nearly 30 tons. The aircraft can reach up to 559 miles/h and has a range of approximately 2,236 miles in its basic configuration.

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