Ilyushin Il-76 Russian Aircraft Crashed Near Ukraine Border

An Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft from Russia crashed in the Belgorod Oblast, adjacent to three Ukrainian Oblasts: Luhansk, Kharkiv, and Sumy. Reports from local media indicate that the crash occurred around 11:00 local time (UTC +3), with multiple videos recording the moment the Il-76 hit the ground.

The aircraft was transporting Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs), as confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defense. Onboard were 65 Ukrainian POWs, three Russian military escorts, and six crew members. The Russian Aerospace Forces sent a commission to the crash site for investigation.

Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary to Russian President Vladimir Putin, stated it was premature to discuss the incident and withheld official comment, indicating that the initial causes of the crash are yet undetermined.

Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the Russian State Duma, immediately attributed blame to Ukraine and announced plans to question the US Congress and the German Bundestag regarding potential armaments involved in the downing of the aircraft. Andrei Kartapalov, head of the State Duma’s defense committee, speculated that the Il-76 might have been shot down by a Patriot or IRIS-T system, suggesting Ukraine might have shot down an aircraft carrying their own soldiers.

“The pilots of our military transport aircraft, who were carrying out a humanitarian mission, shot the defenseless. With American and German missiles

Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the Russian State Duma
Photo via Airforce Technology

It’s important to mention that the Patriot system is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, and the IRIS-T is primarily an air-to-air missile. However, the IRIS-T SLM variant is a SAM system designed to intercept airborne targets such as aircraft and missiles.

The rationale behind Ukraine potentially shooting down an aircraft carrying its own soldiers was not provided by either legislator. According to Ukrinform, a Ukrainian news agency, the Ilyushin Il-76 was reportedly transporting missiles for the S-300 surface-to-air missile system. These missiles were allegedly used for shelling in Ukraine’s border areas. The Ukrainian Air Force did not issue any statements about this particular incident, but at 11:41 local time (UTC +2), they alerted citizens about possible missile strikes in the Kharkiv and Donetsk Oblasts.

Regarding the loss of military aircraft, Russia recently experienced the downing of an Ilyushin Il-76 shortly after the PS ZSU successfully targeted two VKS aircraft: a Beriev A-50 and an Iluyshin Il-22, on January 14, 2024. The Beriev A-50, a modified Iluyshin Il-76 used for airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), crashed into the Sea of Azov. Although the Iluyshin Il-22 managed to land at Anapa International Airport (AAQ) in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, its captain, Viktor Klimov, was killed in the attack, as was later confirmed.

Featured Image via Airforce Technology

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