Russian Kushchyovskaya air base damaged, Su-34s possibly hit

On Saturday morning, April 27, an assault was launched by drones in Russia’s Krasnodar province, targeting the Slavyansk ECO oil refinery near the urban locale of Slavyansk and the Ilya refinery located nearby. This attack led to a severe fire following the UAV’s incursion. 

Russian Kushchyovskaya air base damaged, Su-34s possibly hit
Photo credit: Defense Express

Russian news sources report that approximately seven explosions occurred around five o’clock on the outskirts of Slavyansk’s Kuban, casting an eerie glow in the night sky. The chief of the Slavic district disclosed that a drone strike damaged a distillation column at a refinery in the Krasnodar territory. In addition, the Ilya oil refinery within the Seversky district of the Krasnodar Territory reportedly suffered a similar attack.  

The story becomes more complex as we delve into the Ukrainian perspective, which offers additional details beyond the brief reports from the Russian side. According to their accounts, it wasn’t merely the refineries that bore the brunt of the attack, but also the Russian fighter aviation’s air base in Kushchivsk. Located 250 km from the frontline at the airport in Kushchivsk city, Krasnodar Territory, are Su-34 frontline bombers. The drones appear to not only have targeted the oil refineries in the Krasnodar area, but they also zeroed in on the military airport in Kushchivsk city in this effective incursion.

Russian Kushchyovskaya air base damaged, Su-34s possibly hit
Photo credit: Defense Express

Videos appeared

There’s a video circulating online showcasing the aftermath of the destruction of a warehouse containing UMPK kits that transfigure standard aerial bombs into gliders. The footage reveals a damaged air traffic control building, an unfortunate outcome of the incident. Identifying the exact location of these events is notably uncomplicated. 

The video sheds light on the Su-34 aircraft parked at the airbase. Despite the low resolution, useful satellite imagery from ESA’s Sentinel satellite displays no fewer than five planes situated on the apron near the UMPK repository. 

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that this image was captured on April 9th. Because of heavy cloud cover, no further recent photos are available in the optical range. However, the SAR radar range images show the continued presence of aircraft in the same location. At this point, we aren’t sure if the planes were affected, but the distinctive sound of jet engines can be heard in the video. Perhaps the opponent chose to relocate the vehicles. Historically, “Kushtevskaya” has been the home to the 195th training air base, housing Su-27 aircraft, and potentially still operable MiG-29 and L-39 aircraft.

Su-34 on target

While there is yet no conclusive evidence from either Ukrainian or Russian authorities regarding any Su-34s at the airfield that may have been compromised, it’s noteworthy that the Su-34 has been the frontline bomber most targeted by the Ukrainians since the year’s onset. The night of April 4th, moving into the early hours of the 5th, saw an incident in which Ukrainian drones targeted Russian military bases

UAC delivered RuAF new batch of Su-34 declaring a production reserve
Photo credit: UAC

Data has emerged indicating that Morozovsk’s military airport, primarily used by the Russian Federation for their Su-34 frontline bombers, was the target of these attacks. It’s hypothesized that this airport is a launch site for anti-aircraft missiles aimed towards Ukraine— a theory supported by Ukrainian sources. 

An OSINT [Open Source Intelligence] analyst known as @MT_Anderson disseminated data on social media platform X [formerly Twitter] suggesting the presence of roughly 26 Su-34 units and an additional three Su-30/35 fighters at Morozovsk airfield as of April 4. If the attacks were successful, a significant number of aircraft could potentially have been impacted or completely decimated. However, follow-up reports confirmed that no aircraft were affected by the attack.

At the end of February

Russian Su-34 is too heavy as a fighter and too small as a bomber
Photo by Alex Beltyukov

In late February, the Ukrainian Air Force released a press statement stating the destruction of three Su-34 frontline bombers belonging to the Russian military. Their report dates the incident to February 29, specifying that one of these bombers was taken down early that day, with the remaining two destroyed later. This revelation was shared with the public via the official Facebook page of the UAF command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 

During this timeframe, Ukraine claimed that an additional seven Su-34s were lost from February 17 to February 29, bringing the total number to ten. Furthermore, the Ukrainians declared that two Su-35s were shot down within the same period. If we delve into earlier reports at BulgarianMilitary.com, it gets confirmed that a Beriev A-50 radar plane indeed fell under Russian casualties during this period.

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Su-34s depart Novosibirsk, head to VKS in first 2024 delivery
Photo credit: UAC

On February 21, 2022, Russia stated that its border facility was attacked by Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of five Ukrainian fighters. However, Ukraine quickly dismissed these allegations, labeling them as ‘false flags’.

In a notable move on the same day, Russia announced it officially recognized the self-proclaimed areas of DPR and LPR. Interestingly, according to Russian President Putin, this recognition covered all the Ukrainian regions. Following this declaration, Putin sent a battalion of Russia’s military forces, tanks included, into these areas.

Fast forward to February 24, 2022, global headlines were dominated by a significant incident. Putin commanded a forceful military assault on Ukraine. Led by Russia’s impressive Armed Forces positioned at the Ukrainian border, this assault wasn’t spontaneous but a premeditated action. Despite the circumstances resembling a war, the Russian government refrains from using this term. They’d rather refer to it as a “special military operation”.

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