In a recent incident, Ukraine has suggested that a Su-34 fighter that went down in Bryansk, Russia, may have been shot down by a Patriot system, according to reports on the Defense Express website.
These claims are in addition to the recent Ukrainian government statement about the downing of six Kinzhal missiles by a Ukrainian Patriot. Although no hard evidence supports these claims, speculation has grown around this incident.
The mystery of the Su-34
On May 13, Russia lost four aircraft, including one Su-34, due to various factors. Initially, it was claimed that the Su-34 crashed due to engine damage, but it was later confirmed that Russian air defenses shot it down.
Although there is no official information from Kyiv or Moscow about it, the dispatch of a Russian team to investigate possible sabotage after the incident has generated additional speculation.
The Sukhoi Su-34 is a versatile, twin-engine Russian fighter-bomber aircraft designed for a wide range of military operations. Its capabilities make it a valuable asset in modern warfare scenarios. With a maximum speed of around Mach 1.8 and a combat radius of approximately 1,100 kilometers, the Su-34 is capable of conducting long-range missions.
The aircraft’s primary role is as a strike fighter, capable of carrying a wide variety of guided and unguided munitions. It has a maximum payload capacity of up to 8 tons, allowing it to deliver a significant amount of firepower to the battlefield.
The Su-34 is equipped with advanced avionics and radar systems, enabling it to operate in day and night conditions and in all weather conditions. It also has a high level of survivability due to its robust airframe, integrated electronic warfare systems, and defensive countermeasures.
One of the notable features of the Su-34 is its side-by-side seating configuration for the pilot and co-pilot/navigator, providing enhanced communication and coordination during missions. This setup also allows for extended endurance on long missions, as the crew can take turns in flying and operating systems.
The Su-34 is equipped with a sophisticated integrated targeting and navigation system, which includes an inertial navigation system, satellite navigation, and terrain-following radar.
This enables precise targeting and the ability to operate at low altitudes, avoiding detection by enemy air defense systems. It also has the capability to conduct reconnaissance missions using its onboard sensors and cameras.
Additionally, the Su-34 has air-to-air capabilities, with the ability to engage and defend against enemy aircraft. It is equipped with medium-range air-to-air missiles and a built-in cannon, providing self-defense capabilities.
The Role of the Patriot
The relationship between Ukraine and the Patriot system has been the subject of attention. According to representatives of the Pentagon and Congress quoted by CNN, Ukraine has used the Patriot to shoot down Russian warplanes in the past.
Although the United States claims that the decision to use the Patriot rests with the Ukrainian military, there is some coordination with the Pentagon regarding the objectives and circumstances of use. This relationship has been the subject of controversy, especially with regard to HIMARS, another defense system supplied to Ukraine.
The riddle of scope
The distance between Kyiv, where a Patriot is presumed to be located, and the nearest border with the Bryansk region is 203 km. According to open sources, it has been suggested that Ukraine uses a PAC-3 CRI missile, but there is no confirmation of this.
The operational range of the PAC-2 is up to 160 km, while the PAC-3 has a range of 40 km. Uncertainty surrounding the PAC-2 model available in Ukraine and its actual capability has left doubts about the viability of a Su-34 shootdown.
The Su-34, considered a key fighter-bomber for Russia, has played an important role in the invasion of Ukraine. Equipped with Kh-59 Ovod cruise missiles and long-range aerial bombs, this aircraft poses a significant threat to Ukraine.
Ukraine shot down a Su-34 with a Patriot missile?
If Ukraine is confirmed to have shot down the Su-34 with a Patriot on Russian soil, this could have major implications, as the United States has placed restrictions on the delivery of long-range weapons to Ukraine to prevent their use against Russian targets.
Although the Su-34 incident and its alleged downing by a Ukrainian Patriot raise many questions, no official comments have been received on the matter so far. We will focus on future developments to better understand what happened in this enigmatic incident.