Russia likely grounded fleet of A-50 from flying in support of Ukraine operations - UK intel

Russia likely grounded fleet of A-50 from flying in support of Ukraine operations - UK intel

The Russian Air Force has highly likely grounded the fleet of A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft after the second such aircraft was shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces on February 23.

The UK Defense Ministry said this in an intelligence update published on social media platform X, Ukrinform reports.

“A week on from the loss of a second A-50U MAINSTAY Airborne early warning and control aircraft, Russia has highly likely grounded the fleet from flying in support of Ukraine operations. This is likely to continue whilst internal investigations take place surrounding the failure to protect another high value enabler, and how to mitigate the threat Ukrainian air defence continues to pose,” the report says.

Read also: Ukraine downs another Russian Su-34

The Defense Ministry added that the loss of A-50 providing daily command and control to Russian air operations highly likely significantly degrades the situational awareness provided to air crews.

“This is a capability gap Russia can ill afford over the contested airspace of eastern and southern Ukraine. It is likely that Russia will have to explore options to bridge this gap, including repurposing aircraft and accepting greater risk to provide the effective air support its ground forces require, but are likely not receiving,” the report says.

As noted it is a realistic possibility Russia may attempt to bring previously mothballed A-50 airframes back into service to alleviate this.

As a reminder, on February 23, the Ukrainian Defense Forces shot down a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft.

This is now the third loss of a Russian A-50. Earlier, in February 2023, a similar aircraft was disabled by Belarusian partisans at the Machulishchy airbase, and on January 14, 2024, the Ukrainian Air Force shot down another A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft and an Il-22 aircraft.

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