American Missile Confirmed in Play in Russian Plane Attack

( – On January 24, a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 crashed in Belgorod Oblast, a region in western Russia bordering Ukraine. Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov confirmed that the transport plane went down in a field, killing everyone on board. Subsequent reports indicate that an American-made missile came into play during that incident.

Interfax, a Moscow-based news agency, reported that the head of the Russian State Duma’s defense committee claimed Ukrainian defense forces shot down the plane using three missiles fired from an Italian-made IRIS-T medium-range homing system or the MIM-104 Patriot Missile system.

Manufactured by American defense contractor Raytheon, Patriot systems consist of a phased array radar, multiple interceptors, and “command-and-control-technology” used to detect and defeat enemy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and tactical ballistic missiles. They are rarely utilized for offensive strategies. Instead, they provide effective state-of-the-art defense.

On February 8, The New York Times published an article confirming the use of Patriot missiles in that Ukrainian-led attack on the Russian plane. Citing unnamed US officials, the news agency said one of America’s European partners provided the shells to Ukraine. The Times also warned that Ukraine’s use of the American-made system served as an example of the peril of using “novel battlefield tactics.”

The Ukrainska Pravda and other foreign news agencies initially reported that unnamed sources within the Ukrainian military services said the plane was carrying shells for the S-300 missile system, a long-range surface-to-air device. Sadly, later reports indicated that the Russian transport plane may have been carrying scores of Ukrainian prisoners of war.

The Kyiv Independent reported that officials from Russia’s Defense Ministry said the plane was transporting 65 captured Ukrainian military members for an upcoming prisoner exchange. The news agency advised it could not confirm the claim’s authenticity but noted that Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for Prisoners of War (KSHPPV) said it was investigating the incident.

The KSHPPV’s chief ombudsman urged news agencies and Ukrainians to ignore statements released by unnamed sources or other unauthorized individuals.

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