Russian long-range bomber reportedly shot down over Russia’s North Caucasus

A Russian long-range Tupolev-22M3 bomber crashed into a field in the Stavropol region in Russia’s North Caucasus early on Friday morning, the Russian Defence Ministry said in comments reported by Interfax.

Three members of the four-person crew were found and taken to hospital, the ministry stated, noting that the plane had crashed due to a “technical malfunction”.

Sevastopol Governor Vladimir Vladimirov later said that one person had died and that the search continued for the fourth pilot.

Both Ukrainian Telegram channel Crimean Wind and news outlet RBC-Ukraine reported that the plane had been downed by Ukrainian forces, and another Ukrainian Telegram channel focused on military news reported that the downing of the bomber had been a joint operation carried out by the Ukrainian Air Force and the Defence Ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence.

The Tu-22M3 is a supersonic long-range strategic strike bomber designed in the 1960s. In August Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov told Radio Liberty that there were 31 Tu-22M3s currently in service in the Russian Air Force.

Each bomber costs around €300 million. If confirmed, this would be the first time that a bomber from Russia’s long-range strategic aviation fleet was shot down.

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