#

Patriot SAMbush: New Details on Ukraine's Destruction of a russian A-50 in January 2024

1921
Patriot air defense system in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces / Photo credit: Ukrainian Air Force
Patriot air defense system in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces / Photo credit: Ukrainian Air Force

U.S. colonel for the first time "semi-officially" confirms that Ukrainian Air Force used its Patriot anti-aircraft system to shoot down the russian AEW&CS

On January 15, 2024, the Armed Forces of Ukraine made history by shooting down the first russian A-50 radar patrol aircraft over the Sea of Azov. This event was significant for two reasons: it was the first airborne early warning and control system (AEW&CS) ever shot down in military history, and the operation itself is believed to have been extremely risky.

At the time, the prevailing theory was that a "wandering Patriot" system was used to bring down the russian A-50. The Patriot surface-to-air missile system, known for its capability to hit high-altitude non-ballistic targets up to 160 kilometers away with GEM-T interceptor missiles, seemed the most likely candidate, although it still had to approach dangerously close to the frontline to make such a strike possible.

Read more: How Dangerously Close a Patriot Must be to Shoot Down a russian A-50 Over the Sea of Azov
Coverage range of a GEM-T deployed at a hypothetical spot near the front line / Defense Express / Patriot SAMbush: New Details on Ukraine's Destruction of a russian A-50 in January 2024
The potential coverage range of a GEM-T interceptor deployed by Patriot system at a hypothetical spot near the front line / Map credit: DeepStateUA

Now, the first official comment has emerged to support this theory. A video of U.S. Army Colonel Rosanna Clemente, Deputy Chief of Staff of the 10th Army Air & Missile Defense Command, speaking at the Fires Symposium, is circulating on social media.

In the clip below, she confirms that Ukrainian air defense forces used the Patriot system to shoot down the russian A-50 in January 2024. She described the tactic used as a "SAMbush" (surface-to-air missile ambush). According to her, this was a very risky operation, as Ukrainian troops had to deploy the "wandering Patriot" close to the frontline.

On one hand, her words can be seen as an official confirmation that the first russian A-50 was shot down by a Patriot system. For a reminder, this was soon followed by another A-50 being downed in February. However, confirmation from other sources would further solidify this claim.

This statement adds a crucial piece to the puzzle of Ukraine's historic achievement in January 2024 — the downing of the first AEW&CS in the history of warfare. Moreover, Colonel Clemente introduced the term "SAMbush" to highlight the ingenuity of Ukrainian soldiers, similar to the now well-known term "FrankenSAM," which refers to the collaborative efforts of Ukrainian and American engineers in modernizing Soviet-era air defense systems to fire Western missiles.

A russian A-50 airborne early warning and control system / Defense Express / Patriot SAMbush: New Details on Ukraine's Destruction of a russian A-50 in January 2024
A russian A-50 airborne early warning and control system / Open-source illustrative photo
Read more: ​russian Commanders in Crimea Recommend Air Defense Personnel to Evacuate Families to the Southern Military District