KYIV, UKRAINE — Jan 15, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported the downing of two significant Russian aircraft by Ukrainian air forces – a long-range radar detection and an airborne control centre.

“The Air Force of Ukraine destroyed an adversary’s A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft and an enemy IL-22 air control center. I am grateful to the Air Force for the perfectly planned and conducted operation in the Azov Sea region. Glory to Ukraine,” adds Zaluzhnyi.

According to Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels, yesterday, January 14, reports began to appear about the downing of a Russian A-50 reconnaissance aircraft and the damage to an enemy Il-22M air command post. On the morning of January 15, this information was partially confirmed by the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleshchuk.

Why A-50 and IL-22 are essential targets

The A-50 is a long-range radar detection and control aircraft based on the Il-76 military transport aircraft, which made its first flight on December 19, 1978. It was developed by the Taganrog Scientific and Technical Aviation Complex and the Vega Research and Production Association to replace the then-obsolete Tu-126. The operation of the prototypes began in 1985, and the aircraft was adopted by the Soviet army in 1988.

During the Soviet era, the industry managed to produce about 31 boards, and not many “live” boards remain today, only about 12 in various variations: 9 are in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces in the A-50 and A-50U variants (3 and 6 respectively), and the rest are in service with the Indian Armed Forces.

The aircraft is equipped with the Shmel radio system based on the Soviet Argon-50 airborne electronic computer.

10-11 operators operate the aircraft: a commander, a senior guidance navigator, two guidance navigators, a senior escort operator, two escort operators, and flight engineers of the RTC, radar and communications. 5 flight crew members accompany them.

The aircraft is capable of reconnaissance, air, ground and surface targets. The aircraft can detect ballistic missile plumes at a distance of up to 800 kilometers with the help of optoelectronic onboard systems, and the radar station is capable of detecting and tracking aircraft and cruise missiles at distances of up to 700 kilometers.

Targets such as air defense launchers and ballistic missiles can be engaged at a distance of up to 400 kilometers, and armored vehicles – up to 450 kilometers.

The Il-22M11 is an airborne command post equipped with the Sokol airborne relay unit.

The IL-22 was developed in the 1970s based on the IL-18 civilian airliner.

The crew consists of 5 people (two pilots, a navigator-bombardier, a radio operator, and a stern gunner).

Russia operated 12 Il-22M aircraft, which are actively used for both air traffic control and radio relay communications.

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