Ukraine's use of a Patriot missile system to down Russia's prized A-50 spy plane was 'historic,' said a US air defense officer

Ukraine's use of a Patriot missile system to down Russia's prized A-50 spy plane was 'historic,' said a US air defense officer
  • Ukraine used a Patriot missile to down a prized Russian A-50 spy plane earlier this year.

  • The hi-tech A-50 is crucial for Russia's early warning, command, and control during air operations.

  • A senior US officer called the destruction of the A-50 a 'SAMbush.'

A senior US Army officer has confirmed that Ukraine used a Patriot missile system to down a Russian A-50 spy plane back in January.

Speaking at the Fires Symposium event last month, Colonel Rosanna Clemente, the assistant chief of staff of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, said that Patriot launchers were "being used to protect static sites and critical national infrastructure" in Ukraine.

"Others are being moved around and doing some really historic things that I haven't seen in 22 years of being an air defender. And one of them is a 'SAMbush,'" she said, referring to surface-to-air missile ambushes that Ukrainians have been performing.

"They're doing that with extremely mobile Patriot systems that were donated by the Germans because the systems are all mounted on the trucks."

She added that Ukrainian anti-aircraft teams used this tactic "to engage the first A-50 C2 system back in January."

On the same day, Ukraine also claimed to have shot down an Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post.

The Patriot air defense system was test-fired during a 2017 training in Greece.
Ukraine used a Patriot to down the A-50 spy plane in January 2024.Anthony Sweeney/US Army

The A-50, produced by manufacturer Beriev, is a crucial spy plane that allows Russia to detect incoming Ukrainian missiles and identify ground targets. The aircraft can also act as a mobile command-and-control center to direct Russia's air strikes and other attacks. It has a range of over 3,000 miles and can stay airborne for about eight hours.

The plane has been a "key enabler for Russian operations over Ukraine providing airborne early warning of threats as well as command and control functionality," according to British intelligence.

Ukraine claimed it downed a second A-50 in February, though it is not yet clear what weapons were used in this instance.

Russia now only has around 5 operational A-50s left, reports say.

In March, Ukraine also attempted to strike the Beriev manufacturing plant where Russia refurbishes and modernizes its A-50s, the think tank the Institute for the Study of War said.

Russian sources claimed that the plant was repairing an A-50 that had been previously damaged in a drone attack.

Read the original article on Business Insider