British intelligence says Russia may be deploying A-50U early warning aircraft in Ukraine to protect S-400 missiles against threats.

In an intelligence report on November 17, the British Ministry of Defense said Russia most likely used the A-50 early warning aircraft in Ukraine to detect targets targeting the S-400 long-range air defense system.

British intelligence said that the A-50U line that Russia deployed to Ukraine is equipped with advanced radar, which can detect targets at a greater distance than the S-400’s ground radar and increase system protection capabilities. This is before the fighters that the West is preparing to transfer to Ukraine.

“There is a great possibility that Russia will accept the risk and deploy the A-50U closer to the front line to meet the new role better,” the report said.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has not commented on the report, but a TASS source said on November 7 that the Russian military used a combination of A-50U aircraft and S-400 systems to shoot down targets at a high altitude of 1,000 m in Ukraine.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on October 25 that Russian forces in Ukraine received a new air defense system, and this complex shot down 24 enemy aircraft in just 5 days. Experts believe that the combination Mr. Shoigu mentioned is the A-50 aircraft combined with the S-400.

The A-50U is known as the “magic eye in the air,” capable of detecting flying objects from a distance of 800 km and ground targets from 300 km away. This aircraft allows Russia to build an air combat map deep within Ukrainian territory without flying across the border and detect low-flying aircraft in areas where the S-400’s ground radar cannot observe. Close.

The Russian Air Force is said to be operating 10 A-50s, of which at least one is deployed forward in Syria; the rest are rotated for operation and maintenance. Russia is developing the A-100 version with many outstanding features, but the project is stalled due to a lack of budget.

Rostec Defense Corporation announced at the end of September that it had handed over two modernized versions of the A-50U to the Russian military, which can detect many types of new-generation aircraft and capture a larger number of targets.

Information about Russia’s deployment of the A-50U in Ukraine appeared in the context of Kyiv preparing to receive F-16 fighter jets after months of calling on Western countries to provide modern American-made fighters.

Denmark has committed to delivering 19 F-16 fighters to Ukraine; the first batch of 6 will be delivered this year, the next 8 in 2024 and 5 in 2025. Many countries also promised to aid F-16. -16 for Ukraine, but no transfer schedule has been stated.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the F-16 fighter “will strengthen Ukraine’s air defense capabilities,” supporting them in the counterattack campaign. Meanwhile, Minister Shoigu announced that the Russian military only needed 20 days to take down all the F-16 fighters that the West pledged to transfer to Kyiv.