Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Black Day For Russia? Two Tu-22 Bombers Reportedly Destroyed By Ukraine As Kerch Bridge Incident Shocks Moscow

In the latest incident in a string of drone attacks on Russian military infrastructure, a Ukrainian drone reportedly traveled across the border and targeted a Russian Tu-22M bomber base. 

A Ukrainian drone struck the Shaykovka airbase, home to Russian Tu-22 strategic bombers from the 52nd Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment. The facility is located 170 miles southwest of Moscow and 140 miles north of the border with Ukraine.  

The governor of the Kaluga region, Vladislav Shapsha, announced the latest attack on October 7 via his telegram channel. A Ukrainian media outlet also reported that an explosion occurred on the premises of the Shaykovka military base in the Kaluga region as a result of a kamikaze drone assault.

“The drone flew from the side of the border. According to Russian TG channels, the explosion occurred when the UAV was over the runway,” LB.ua reported, citing sources. Nevertheless, Shapsha claimed on his Telegram channel that the drone attack didn’t damage the airbase.

Translating the message to English – “Today, an explosion occurred at the Shaykovka military airfield in the Kaluga Region. A drone that allegedly came from the border fell. There were no casualties.” he noted. 

“The infrastructure of the airfield and equipment are not damaged. There is no threat to work. An investigative and operational group is working at the scene to establish the causes and circumstances of the incident,” Shapsha added.

Shaykovka (air base) - Wikipedia
Shaykovka (air base) – Wikipedia

Russian media also confirmed an explosion near Kaluga. Russian news outlet Readovka alleged that the drone was downed before it could harm the airbase. 

“The UAV was shot down over the runway of a military unit in the Kaluga region,” Readokva reported . “It is known that the drone could not cause any serious damage. It was shot down in the air on approach,” it said.

In contrast, according to open sources, the drone attack destroyed two TU-22 strategic bombers being utilized to attack Ukraine. 

The War Zone received similar information from two Ukrainian intelligence sources. Shapsha, on the other hand, refuted claims that two Tu-22M Backfire bombers at the Shaykovka Air Base were damaged.

“As previously reported, today a drone fell at the Shaikovka military airfield in the Kaluga region,” he shared on his telegram channel. 

“My deputy immediately went to the place to clarify the situation. It was confirmed that there were no casualties. The airfield infrastructure and equipment were not damaged. Reports of damaged aircraft are pure fake,” he asserted. 

Russian Tu-22 In Ukraine Operation

The Tu-22M bombers have been crucial in Russia’s all-out offensive against Ukraine. On April 14, they joined the operation and began by utilizing unguided bombs.

The Azovstal plant in the besieged Mariupol was also bombed by these aircraft. Mariupol was bombed for many days in a row up until the mid of May.

Russian forces had already surrounded the town. Consequently, the Tu-22M3 could bombard Mariupol with a barrage of freefall bombs without being concerned about Ukrainian air defenses.

TU-160M
File Image: TU-160M

There have also been claims that they used the massive FAB-3000 bombs, which weigh 3,000 kilograms (6,614 lb) and are the biggest in the Russian arsenal. However, there has been no confirmation of this.

The Tu-22M3s use the heavier Kh-22M, Kh-22N, or Kh-32 supersonic anti-ship missiles to attack targets deep inside Ukraine. On May 11, the first video shot from the cockpit of a Tu-22M3 firing missile, apparently towards Ukraine, was released by Russia. 

Russian precision standoff cruise missile stocks have been depleted, making these attacks increasingly frequent. The anti-ship missiles of the Tu-22 are believed to be used by the military in a secondary, less precise ground assault mode.

On October 6, it was reported that these bombers conducted an airstrike on the territory of Ukraine from Belarusian airspace for the first time since August. 

Key Russian Bridge to Crimea Destroyed

Meanwhile, the Kerch bridge, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s flagship projects connecting Russia and Crimea, was destroyed by a massive explosion.

The bridge, constructed on Vladimir Putin’s instructions and opened in 2018, served as a significant troop transport route and a means of delivering military supplies to Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, particularly in the south.

Despite the war in Ukraine, Russia insisted the bridge was secure and threatened Kyiv with retaliation if it came under attack.

Footage of the bridge that has gone viral online showed a rapidly blazing fire consuming at least two train cars and one-half of the adjacent road bridge collapsing into the Kerch Strait. A massive column of black smoke accompanied the fire.

On October 8, just before 6 am, a train was crossing the bridge when an explosion was heard. Russian authorities claimed a vehicle bomb caused it. The witnesses claimed that it could be heard from kilometers away.

“Today at six o’clock, seven minutes on the automobile part of the Crimean bridge from the side of the Taman Peninsula, a truck was blown up, which resulted in the ignition of seven fuel tanks of the train, following in the direction of the Crimean Peninsula,” Russia’s national anti-terrorism committee said.

Featured News