The Ukrainian Air Force Claims To Have Shot Down Three Russian Su-34s Today

Su-34 shot down
File photo of a Russian Su-34 (Image credit: Wiki/Vadim Savitsky)

According to the Ukrainian military, three Su-34 Fullback aircraft would have been shot down over southern Ukraine.

On Dec. 22, 2023, Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, announced on Telegram that three Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers were shot down on the southern front.

In his message, Oleshchuk explained:

“On the night of 21-22 December 2023, we received a message from the invaders ‘die, fu**ers’ on a piece of a downed Shahed drone with the serial letter Ы.

What a great idea! Here’s our answer!

Today at noon on the southern front, three Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers were downed!

Eternal flight, ‘brothers’!”

The news was then shared online also by the official accounts of the Ukrainian Air Force.

The loss has also been acknowledged by Russian sources active on Telegram, although the exact number has not been confirmed.

The Su-34 Fullback is Russia’s most advanced strike fighter. Entered in active service with the Russian Aerospace Forces in 2014, the Fullback is a two-seat strike fighter with a maximum range of 4,000 km, a payload of up to 12,000 kg on 12 hardpoints, including stand-off munitions, and the ability to carry R-77 and and R-73 missiles, a 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon, and a Khibiny ECM suite.

The aircraft have been particularly active in southern Ukraine, especially in the Kherson area, and, if confirmed, especially in the numbers claimed by the Ukrainian Air Force, the downing of the Su-34s would represent a significant blow for the Russian forces as well as an important success for the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses in the region.

As for the air defense system used to intercept the Su-34s, it’s too early to say, although Patriot or SAMP/T batteries (delivered beginning in April-May 2023) may have been activated in southern Ukraine too and used in some sort of SAM bait for the three Russian strike aircraft. The Patriot made the news earlier this year when a Kinzhal air launched hypersonic missile launched by a Russian MiG-31K was intercepted, during an overnight attack on May 4, 2023, in the Kyiv region, by an MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system, in the first recorded interception by the Ukrainian military since the systems had been delivered.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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.