Ukrainian Mi-24 Gunships Slipped Across The Border With Russia To Carry Out Attack On A Fuel Depot

Ukrainian Mi-24
Two screenshots from the Ukrainian Mi-24 pre-dawn raid on Apr. 1, 2022.

An impressive raid was carried out by the Ukrainian Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters on an oil facility in Belgorod, Russia.

According to reports surfacing early on Apr. 1, 2022, at least two Ukrainian Mi-24 gunship helicopters sneaked inside the Russian airspace to carry out an early morning attack on an oil storage facility in Belgorod, located about 25 miles north of the border and 50 miles from Kharkiv.

If confirmed, the raid would represent a significant achievement for the Ukrainian forces: it would affect Russia’s fuel stocks close to Kharkiv, under siege since the beginning of the invasion, but also have a psychological effect on the Kremlin, getting increasingly frustrated by the setbacks in their “special military operation”.

The videos posted on social media speak for themselves.

The tactic used by the Ukrainian pilots is pretty clear: they have flown at ultra low level to avoid detection by the Russian Aerospace Forces radars until they have reached the target area, where they have used what appears to be S-8 unguided rockets, before egressing the area at low level. It would be interesting to know whether the Mi-24s got some sort of aerial support during the raid, although it seems more likely that they carried out a solitary mission, as the presence of other assets flying close to the border would have alarmed the Russian air defenses.

Still, the raid is quite impressive, as it was carried out inside what is believed to be highly defended airspace: since it was not first time the Ukrainians targeted depots in Belgorod, it’s possible that the Russians were expecting a ballistic missile attack, rather than a raid using manned aircraft inside their territory.

Whatever, if confirmed (as Tyler Rogoway at TWZ pointed out it could be a false flag, although at the moment nothing points in that direction) the air strike shows the Ukrainians can find creative ways to counter-attack not only within their territory but also inside Russia. And, above all, the successful operation once again proves Ukrainian fighters, helicopters and drones, continue to operate with a certain freedom in the skies over Ukraine.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

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