Russian army ramps up use of reconnaissance drones to fill void left by absence of A-50 scout planes

А-50 reconnaissance plane
А-50 reconnaissance plane

The Russian military has escalated its utilization of reconnaissance drones as a substitute for the A-50 long-range radar and control aircraft, Southern Defense Forces spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk said on national television on April 1.

"While yesterday we identified more than 200 reconnaissance drones in area from Odesa Oblast to Zaporizhzhia, today their number were slightly less," she said.

Read also: Satellite images reveal damage at Taganrog plant after drone strike on A-50 repair site

"But the enemy continues reconnaissance, and it is obvious that they need to compensate absence of A-50s in the air in any way possible."

At the same time, Humeniuk said that Russians are constantly collecting information for future targeted missile strikes and massive attacks.

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"Obviously, drone and missile attacks will not stop, because the enemy has accumulated some stockpiles," she added.

"We saw a cargo plane flying from Tehran to Moscow. This plane may have delivered completed attack drones as well as components for them to be assembled in Russia." 

Downing of Russian A-50s: what is known

Ukrainian military had shot down a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection and control aircraft and an Il-22 command and control aircraft over the Sea of Azov on Jan. 14. The next day, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleshchuk, indirectly confirmed this information.

Read also: At least one Russian A-50 AWACS damaged in drone attack on Taganrog aircraft plant – HUR source

Subsequently, the information about the destruction of Russian A-50 and Il-22 aircraft was confirmed by the then Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhny, who thanked the Ukrainian Air Force for the "perfectly planned and executed operation" in the Azov Sea.

According to the Defense Express, destruction of the A-50 was the first-ever destruction of a long-range radar detection aircraft. According to the propaganda Telegram channel Fighterbomber, at least 11 military pilots were killed.

Read also: Russia's latest missile attack on Kyiv linked to A-50 problems, says Ukrainian aviator

Ukrainian Armed Forces shot down a second A-50 on Feb. 23. This was officially confirmed by the Ukrainian Air Force and the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine. According to media reports, plane was hit by a Soviet S-200 air defense system.

NV's sister publication Ukrainska Pravda, citing sources in the HUR, reported that all 10 crew members were killed on Feb. 24. According to the source, list of dead Russians included five majors, three captains, an ensign and a lieutenant.

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