Ground and satellite images now available confirm the damage of the December 5 attacks: Ukrainian drones damaged a Tu-22M3 bomber at the Russian air base of Dyagilevo and a Tu-95 bomber at the Russian air base of Engels-2.
Two bombers damaged
On the morning of December 5, the Ukrainian Armed Forces launched at least two suicide drones from their lines. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed both attacks, as well as the use of a Soviet-made drone. From then on, the hypothesis of the Tu-141 modified into a suicide drone is increasingly likely (more info in this article). Just over 24 hours after the explosions, the first images from both bases confirm the damages:
- 1 Tu-22M3 bomber (RF-34110) at Dyagilevo Air Base. It is very seriously damaged by the fire of a nearby tanker. In addition to the damage of the explosion of the drone, the rear part of the aircraft has suffered from strong heat, the two guns Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23L are also to be repaired, as well as the two engines. This bomber is therefore no longer able to fly or at least not before a serious period of repairs. It remains if it will not be decommissioned.
- 1 Tu-95 strategic heavy bomber at Engels-2 airbase: satellite photos confirm that a Tu-95 was sprayed by airbase firefighters, also suggesting that this aircraft is seriously damaged. However, the image shown below does not give a clear picture of the damages, but an aircraft located near a fire or hit directly is more likely to never fly again than to be repaired (du to high cost needed for the reparations).
A Tu-160 very close...
The Tu-160 Blackjack is a valuable aircraft for the Russian Armed Forces. Unlike the Tu-95 that entered service in 1956, the Tu-160 made its first flight in 1981 and was operational in 1987. This aircraft is much more recent and a re-engined version is currently being tested. It is also a symbol, as it is one of the "modern" air vehicles of the Russian strategic forces and a rare aircraft: 30 Tu-160s are said to be in service within the various components of the Russian air force and the loss of some of these aircraft could have long-term effects on Russian deterrence plans. However, satellite photos of Engels-2 base, analyzed below, clearly indicate that the base hosts several Tu-160 strategic bombers in addition to Tu-95s, and satellite photos from December 3 and 4 help confirm that a Tu-160 was not far from the Tu-95 that was hit.
The caption includes the identification code on the satellite images, the model and type of aircraft and the number of aircraft present.
The tweet republished below makes it possible to confirm the location of the Tu-95, namely to the left of the two Tu-95 carcasses (visible on the first two satellite photos). However, the images dated December 3-4 clearly demonstrate that a Tu-160 was placed on the parking area near the hit Tu-95.
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