Photo: author’s archive via ameliaairheart


Besides this tactical intelligence the Ukrainians were obviously very well informed by

the western intelligence services in strategic matters. That consequently enabled the

Ukrainians to react in time to the Russian

attack which came in the morning of February 24. It looks that some central ammunition and fuel depots and other military equipment were quietly moved to new locations

and the Ukrainian Air Force had a chance

to send all of their airworthy aircraft to

detached airports throughout the country.

Thus, on February 23 evening a number of

airplanes and helicopters left their permanent bases and in this way escaped the Russian first strike and almost from the first

moments could be deployed in the battle

against the occupiers flying out of their detached bases. There are a huge number of

airports on the Ukrainian territory and even

though the majority of them don’t feature

sufficiently long and sturdy runway suitable for the supersonic types such as Su-24,

Su-27 or Mig-29, it cannot be ruled out that

June 2022

Photo: author’s archive

The map illustrating the combat range of NATO's F-16, F-15E, EF-2000 Typhoon and F-35 confirms the deployment of NATO refueling aircraft. Those together with the reconnaissance aircraft sortie daily to provide support to NATO combat aircraft which fly constant preventive CAP near the border of the NATO eastern member countries with Russia and Belarus. Their mission is to defend against any violation of the NATO airspace and at the same time preventively protect the reconnaissance airplanes from deliberate act and possible

attack by VKS RF. Shortly after the commencement of the Russian invasion to Ukraine NATO stated to have more than 100 combat aircraft on operational readiness and even this

complement includes the planes outside of the alliance eastern flank it represents considerable boost of NATO combat potential in the area of possible threat to the member states

- particularly in Baltics, Poland and Romania. For example, from April 1, 2022, the Czech squadron 211 has been deployed with five JAS-39C Gripen to the Lithuanian base Shiauliai

as a part of EAP (Enhanced Air Policing) rotation. The refueling aircraft employed in the action are USAF KC-10A and KC-135R out of Mildenhall in Great Britain and Rammstein in

Germany, furthermore the British Voyager KC.2 which fly out of the home bases as well as out of the Cyprus airport RAF Akrotiri. Integral part of the refueling fleet are French

C-135FR, A-330 MRTT, Italian KC-767A but also A-330 MRTT from NATO international unit MMU (Multinational MRTT Unit) out of Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

Probably the first Ukrainian airplane lost in the air was this transport An-26 (supposedly “blue 59” from the 15. ObrTrA

transport air brigade based on Kiev-Boryspil). With the port engine in flames it was noted flying at the low altitude

followed by a hard landing on the field between Zhukyvtsy and Trypillya in Obukhiv area south of Kiev while five out

of 14 people on board were supposedly killed. With a certain level of probability, we can assume that it was a victim of

one of the VKS RF fighters when flying from south it attempted to reach its base at Boryspil which is located north

of the crash site.

INFO Eduard