Russian forces appear to have mistakenly downed their newest fighter aircraft over Ukraine, multiple news outlets reported, citing a video shared by the Ukrainian military on the Telegram messaging app.
A Russian air defense system seems to have mistakenly struck the recently inducted Sukhoi Su-34M fighter-bomber near Alchevsk — a city in the Luhansk region currently occupied by Russian-backed separatists — on Sunday.
A Russian defense journalist, Yevgeny Poddubny, captured the incident, apparently unaware of the aircraft’s identity.
“Last night, the air defense crew of the allied forces destroyed a target in the sky over Alchevsk (LPR). The nature of the target is not clear. The burning ball fell to the ground for more than a minute,” Poddubny wrote while sharing the video on Telegram on Monday.
Russian war correspondent Yevgeny Poddubny published a video over night which he said shows Russian/LNR air defenses destroying a target over Alchevsk. It appears that Russian air defenses shot down its own Su-34 bomber. https://t.co/qTxccwJRua https://t.co/fVEvBoUy21 pic.twitter.com/RmBDCrRyJ3
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) July 18, 2022
Russian commentators initially mistook the aircraft for a Ukrainian plane until its identity became clear, after which they deleted the video, Newsweek wrote.
“The jet is ours, unfortunately. Sometimes it happens. I heard the info from a friend, I thought bulls**t, but it was confirmed,” the outlet quoted a Russian Telegram user, Ruslan, as saying.
The Dutch Aviation Society reportedly identified the aircraft wreckage through its registry number — RF-95890.
The Russian government has not commented on the incident.
According to preliminary information, it was likely to be a case of friendly fire. pic.twitter.com/4DIzPE8Y5N
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) July 18, 2022
The Russian Aerospace Forces inducted its first Su-34Ms in June. A total of 76 aircraft have been ordered through 2027.
Russia began inducting the twin-engine, twin-seat plane in 2014 as a replacement for the Su-24M.
An improved version of the Su-34 model, the 34M features a more powerful engine, better radar, electronics, and weapons payload, including the Kh-35U anti-ship air-to-surface missile, capable of sinking a mid-sized vessel 250 kilometers (155 miles) away.
Russian Losses More Than Twice Ukraine’s
Russia has lost a total of 35 fighter aircraft since the war began in February, including 11 Su-34s, according to the Oryx blog, which documents visually-confirmed equipment lost in the conflict.
Ukraine has also lost a similar number of fighters, though the country’s overall aircraft losses in the conflict are less than half of Russia’s: 74 to 181.