Lukashenko confirms damage to key early warning system in drone attack
British intelligence clarified the importance of the A-50 aircraft for Russia (Photo:t.me/s/By_Pol)
A Russian A-50U Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft needed to launch Kinzhal missiles was damaged at Belarus’ Machulyshchy Airfield on Feb. 26, Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko confirmed on March 7.
It is widely believed the aircraft was attacked with a small uncrewed air vehicle (UAV).
The A-50 Mainstay was flown to a repair facility in the Russian city of Taganrog. The flight was reportedly at an unusually low altitude, indicating that the pressurized cabins were damaged.
The A-50 is believed to provide situational awareness for the MiG-31K Foxhound D fighter, modified to launch Kinzhal ballistic missiles. Russia views these as a key strategic capability, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense intelligence wrote.
Its radar system was removed to stabilize the modernized fighter, making it reliant on an outside data provider such as the A-50 Mainstay.
"It is a realistic probability that joint Russo-Belarusian air activity will now be forced to rely on ground control and fighter escort until another Mainstay can be deployed," the assessment read.
Russia uses Belarus’ Machulyshchy Airfield, near Minsk, for military purposes. Preliminary reports that explosions damaged an A-50U Mainstay early warning system were confirmed.
Alexander Azarov, Head of the BYPOL opposition, said Belarusian guerrillas were responsible for the sabotage.
Belarusian border guards have intensified checks on anyone leaving the country, following the incident. At least six people have been detained, the Vyasna human right organisation reported.
But it now appears that the individuals involved in the attack managed to escape abroad with video footage of the drone attack.
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