Some serious losses that occur before the arrival of the F-16 to Ukraine

The 13 airplanes that Russia lost in Ukraine in the second half of February 2024

Russia has been assuming a very high number of material and human losses in its invasion of Ukraine, and that includes its air force.

New strategic hit on Russia: the shootdown of a second AWACS A-50 Mainstay aircraft
The first photo of an F-16 fighter with Ukrainian insignia and the details it has revealed

At the end of December, Russia suffered 3-su-34 fighter-bombers/">an aerial ambush in which it lost 3 Su-34 fighter-bombers, one of the most modern attack aircraft of the Russian Air Force (it made its first flight in 1990 and entered service in 2009). The planes were shot down in a corridor north of Crimea, most likely by long-range MIM-104 Patriot missiles. On Christmas Eve, Russia wanted to take revenge for that ambush with an air attack in which it lost two other combat aircraft: another Su-34 in the Donetsk region and a Su-30fighter heading to Odessa.

In mid-January, more setbacks came for the Russian Air Force: the downing of an airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft Beriev A-50 "Mainstay" and serious damage to an Ilyushin Il-22 "Coot-B" command plane, which was finally able to land.

However, the worst for Russia was yet to come. This noon, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported the downing of 13 Russian aircraft in the second half of February, including three shot down this Thursday the 29th. "February is the shortest month of the year, but our sky defenders have achieved the best results in shooting down Russian planes since October 2022", the ministry has noted. Here you can see the chronology of these losses:

A total of 8 Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers shot down

As already happened in December, the most punished model has been the Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber: Russia has lost 8 in these two weeks, including 3 shot down this Thursday. Everything seems to indicate that Ukraine's Patriot missiles continue to wreak serious havoc on the ranks of Russian aviation, whose planes seem incapable of facing the threat of these long-range missiles.

According to data published by, between the beginning of the invasion and December 22, Russia had already lost 24 Su-34s in Ukraine, being the Russian fixed-wing aircraft that is suffering the most losses in this war and the third aircraft model, behind the Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter (Russia has already lost 60) and the Mil Mi-8 transport helicopter (34 lost).

Currently, Russia is the sole operator of the Su-34. By mid-2023, 157 units of this aircraft had been manufactured, including seven prototypes . Its large size (23.34 meters long and 14.7 meters wingspan) makes it an ideal target for surface-to-air missiles (SAM). For Russia, these losses have a high economic cost, since the Su-34 is one of Russia's most expensive combat aircraft, with a unit cost of about 36 million dollars.

3 Sukhoi Su-35 fighters shot down

Another Russian aircraft heavily punished by the Ukrainian air defense is the Sukhoi Su-35: Russia has lost three in the last two weeks and on three consecutive days: February 17, 18 and 19. The Su-35 made its first flight in 1988, initially being named Su-27M, being a development of the Sukhoi Su-27, a model that entered service in 1985 with the Soviet Air Force.

According to "The Military Balance 2023" by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, last year the Russian Air Force had 99 Su-35S, the single-seat version of this fighter. The unit cost of each Su-35 would be 43 million dollars, even more expensive than the Su-34, although some sources raise that figure to 85 million. had verified the downing of 5 Russian Su-35s in Ukraine until this month.

The shooting down of a second Beriev A-50 'Mainstay'

But despite it being a single plane, the worst loss for Russia this month has been, without a doubt, the shootdown of an airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft Beriev A-50 "Mainstay" , which we already talked about here a few days ago. As I already indicated above, it is already the second plane of this type that Russia loses, after the downing of another A-50 in mid-January

In this case, we are talking about a much rarer aircraft than the Su-34 and Su-35. After those two shootdowns and after another A-50 was damaged by a partisan attack in Belarus, the Russian Air Force could now only have between 4 and 7 aircraft of this type. It is a very valuable asset due to its role in the Ukrainian theater of operations, not only as a radar aircraft that allows detecting enemy aircraft with greater coverage than ground radars, but also for its role as an air control aircraft. Every downed plane is a strategic loss for Russia. Also its unit cost is 350 million dollars and it has 15 highly specialized crew members.

The F-16 has not yet been deployed in Ukraine

The most notable thing is that Ukraine has managed to deal these hard blows to Russian aviation without the F-16 fighters having yet flown in this war, although it may not be long before their arrival, judging by the first photo of an F-16 with Ukrainian insignia that we saw here a few weeks ago. The F-16 is a more maneuverable and technologically advanced aircraft than its Russian rivals, so its arrival in Ukraine may bring even worse news for Russia.


Photos: Russian Ministry of Defense / Voice of America.

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