On February 26, 2023, a Russian A-50 AWACS aircraft was damaged at Minsk’s military airfield near Minsk, according to Reuters and Militarnyi with reference to the opposition Belarusian channels Belarusian Hajun and BYPOL.
Belarusian sources mentioned the use of two UAVs, which were controlled from the territory of Belarus. Operators are reported to be safe outside the country.
It is claimed that the A-50 has received serious damage and will not fly anywhere. The front and central parts of the aircraft, avionics, and radar antenna were damaged.
If this is true, the loss of A-50 aircraft is the greatest simultaneous loss of Russian aggressors from the moment of the destruction of the Moskva ship. According to russian sources, the cost of one modified A-50U filled with valuable electronics is close to $330 million.
In total, russia has only 6 A-50Us and 3 outdated A-50s. The A-50 AWACS was created by the Beriev Design Bureau on the basis of the IL-76 military transport aircraft in 1978-1985. Modernization was carried out in 2003-2008.
AWACS aircraft are used for reconnaissance and air combat control, detection of targets for missile strikes, early warning of missile launches, determination of the location of air defense systems, etc. It was for the coordination of missile strikes and “probing” the air defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces that the Russians used A-50Us from the Machulishchy airfield. Recently, a significant number of air alarms in northern Ukraine have been associated with the takeoff of MiG-31K fighter aircraft capable of carrying hypersonic Kinzhal missiles and A-50U AWACS aircraft, which at that time were trying to find gaps in our air defense.
So, whoever is responsible for the damage to the A-50 in Belarus, we thank them. This is a good deed.