During a massive and one of the most successful drone attacks on strategic targets in russia, including the Kresty airfield near Pskov, russia lost at least four Il-76 military transport aircraft.
This number of aircraft was specifically mentioned by a representative of the Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Andriy Yusov. Moreover, this isn’t the total count of affected aircraft, as the number of inoperative Il-76 planes is currently being determined.
Prior to this incident, unofficially, russia had acknowledged the loss of two Il-76 aircraft and the damage to four of such planes. Additionally, according to unverified information, there was another Tu-22 long-range bomber-missile carrier stationed at the airfield, which also incurred damage.
However, the Il-76 planes have been directly affected. The concern extends beyond the loss of the aircraft themselves and encompasses broader consequences. Specifically, these aircraft, seemingly assigned to the 334th Military Transport Aviation Regiment, are responsible for more than just the well-known 76Th Airborne Assault Division of russia. They are also tasked with facilitating the swift transportation of cargo.
Moreover, it’s known that some of the most sensitive and high-value weaponry in russia is exclusively transported by aviation. While the figure of 6 aircraft might appear modest, within the so-called VK there are a total of 110 Il-76 planes. This implies that a single strike has effectively incapacitated 5.5% of these aircraft.
However, it’s important to consider that the loss of Il-76 aircraft isn’t irreparable for russia. Their production is carried out in series at the Aviastar-SP aviation plant in Ulyanovsk.
As of the beginning of 2023, russia officially reported achieving a production rate of five Il-76MD-90A aircraft per year over the previous year. Consequently, this drone attack has essentially nullified the annual record production of these planes.
However, the production of new aircraft is directly linked to the fact that a significant portion of the Il-76 fleet manufactured during the Soviet era has reached the end of its operational life and requires replacement.