Two helicopters and two jets crash in the Bryansk region of Russia. Here’s what we know
Павел Васильев
Two helicopters and two jets crash in the Bryansk region of Russia. Here’s what we know
13 May 2023, 21:21

A blade damaged the fence of a residential house. Photo: Podslushano Klintsy Telegram channel

At approximately 12:30, Podslushano Klintsy, a Telegram channel, reported a helicopter crash in the Bryansk region of Russia, mere dozens of miles from the border with Ukraine. For several hours, social media and news feeds were in a frenzy: tabloid sources reported other aircraft crashes while eyewitnesses posted footage of explosions in the sky and burning debris. By midday, it became clear that the Russian Air Force had lost two helicopters a fighter jet and a fighter-bomber over its own territory in one day. Here’s a brief summary of what we know so far.

How many aircraft were lost

According to various sources, four aircraft fell: two Mi-8 helicopters, as well as a Su-34 fighter-bomber and a Su-35 fighter jet. The authorities have only officially confirmed the crash of one helicopter. According to the governor of the Bryansk region, Alexander Bogomaz, a Mi-8 helicopter fell in Klintsy, resulting in damage to five houses. One woman was injured and taken to the hospital.

Milbloggers confidently reported the crash of four Russian aircraft earlier in the day. TASS, a state news agency, confirmed the crash of two aircraft, a Mi-8 and a Su-34, citing sources in local emergency services. Baza, Mash, and 112, Telegram channels specializing in breaking news, initially reported the fall of two helicopters and one fighter, cited own sources, but by the end of the day, agreed that two helicopters and two jest had crashed. A more reputable Kommersant newspaper also reported the crash of four aircraft.

Oryx, an OSINT project tallying military equipment losses, also reports on the destruction of four Russian aircraft.

All four aircraft, according to Baza, crashed in the Bryansk region: one of the helicopters fell in Klintsy, another in the Unecha region, and the jets crashed in the villages of Nizhnyaya and Suretsky Muravey. According to the publication, nine people died, six crew members from the two helicopters, two Su-34 pilots, and the Su-35 pilot.

What happened to these aircraft

Kommersant reports that, according to preliminary data, all the fallen aircraft were part of one air group. According to the newspaper, the jets were supposed to drop missiles on targets in the neighboring Chernihiv region of Ukraine, and the helicopters were there for support, including to pick up aircraft crews if they were shot down. None of the four machines returned home.

According to Kommersant, videos posted on social networks by eyewitnesses suggest that at least one Mi-8, which fell on the outskirts of Klintsy, was shot down by a missile. Unnamed experts told the newspaper that the helicopter was most likely attacked by “air-to-air” weapons, i.e., from enemy aircraft or helicopters. Thus, the publication notes, Russian planes and helicopters likely “fell victim to an air ambush.” The distance from Klintsy to the border with Ukraine is 45 kilometers (28 miles).

Another theory suggests ground fire, which has prompted local police in Bryansk to initiate an “Intercept” plan to search for possible saboteurs, according to Kommersant. The search was also reported by Baza, Mash and 112.

The possibility of an ambush by Ukrainian air force in the border zone was suggested by the loyalist Telegram channel Unofficial Bezsonov Z. “Most likely, the enemy used its own air defense forces from an ambush, which was pre-emptively deployed in the border zone, from which the distance allowed to hit our aviation group. This means that the enemy most likely knew the route and departure time of our group,” the channel claimed.

Rybar, a Telegram channel supporting the invasion, suggests that air targets over the Bryansk region could have been hit from Ukrainian territory by planes taking off from the Mirgorod Air Base in the Poltava region.

According to Helicopterpilot, at least one of the helicopters that crashed in the Bryansk region had an electronic warfare system installed. The channel refers to the downed machine as MTPR, a modification of the Mi-8, equipped with the “Rychag-AV” threat analysis system.

“This complex is designed to protect aircraft and ground objects. It suppresses enemy air attack and air defense systems through electronic warfare,” wrote Argumenty i Fakty, a newspaper. The MTPR is mentioned in the entry for one of the helicopters by Oryx. Russian Ministry of Defense has not commented on the crash of the jets and helicopters.

Editor: Dmitry Tkachev

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