Russians reduce presence of strategic aircraft at Engels base – satellite imagery

30 December 2022, 06:40 PM
Military airfield in Engels on December 29 (Photo:Planet Labs Inc.)

Military airfield in Engels on December 29 (Photo:Planet Labs Inc.)

Russians were forced to significantly reduce their long-range aviation activity at Engels after explosions at the local airfield, according to satellite imagery, The Drive portal reported on Dec. 29.

“New satellite imagery of Engels Air Base, located deep within Russia, from December 29 shows that repeated Ukrainian attempts to strike the air base, as well as the arrival of cold weather conditions, appears to have led to a significant reduction in activity. Only 11 bombers are present, down from 26 on Nov. 29,” the assessment said.

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“Recent snowfall at Engels also betrays the inactivity of some aircraft. While five Tu-95 Bears are visibly de-iced and parked on cleared aprons and taxiways, four others remain covered in snow. The two remaining Tu-160 Blackjack bombers appear covered in snow as well, though at least one of them shows signs of having its apron cleared of snow possibly to provide safe access to the taxiways. No clear damage is observed following alleged Ukrainian attacks against the facility on Dec. 26 and 29, but between reducing aircraft presence and installing new protective barriers, it appears Russia is trying to mitigate the persistent threat against its bombers deployed to the base,” The Drive wrote.

Military airfield in Engels on December 29 (Фото: Planet Labs Inc.)
Military airfield in Engels on December 29 / Фото: Planet Labs Inc.

The Russians have used both types of aircraft in the war against Ukraine, especially in recent months, when they intensified their attacks on the energy infrastructure. However, these six bombers may now be unserviceable or have technical problems.

At the same time, five more Tu-95 Bear bombers are regularly cleared of snow and stand on cleared platforms and taxiways.

An unknown drone crashed on the runway of the Engels-2 airbase in Russia’s Saratov Oblast on Dec. 5. Satellite images recorded damage to at least one Tu-95 bomber.

On the same day, a gas tanker exploded at the airfield near Ryazan. The Russian Ministry of Defense said that as a result of the incidents, three Russian soldiers were killed and four more were injured.

A new powerful explosion occurred in Engels at the same military airfield on the night of Dec. 26. According to Ukrainian intelligence, more than three Russians died as a result.

Yuriy Ihnat, Air Force Command spokesperson, called the Dec. 26 explosions “the consequences of Russian aggression.” He also reported that in connection with the incidents, Russia has redeployed its strategic aviation.

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