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Ukrainian Missiles Target Russian Airbase Destroying S-400 Systems

On the morning of April 17, 2024, Ukrainian forces reportedly launched an attack using ATACMS ballistic missiles and Storm Shadow cruise missiles against the Russian airbase at Dzhankoi, located in the northern part of occupied Crimea. The first strike of this attack reportedly hit the positions of the S-400 Triumph air defense system, destroying of three launchers and one radar unit. This overnight attack was described by multiple sources, including photos, videos, and satellite sensor imagery, indicating substantial damage to the Russian military's air defense capabilities at the base.
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Evidence of the impact of the strike comes from this photograph, currently of unverified origin, which purports to show the aftermath at the Russian air base and the destruction of an S-400 Triumph air defense system (Picture source: X Channel @DefenseExpress)

Dzhankoi, which serves as a major logistics and repair hub, also houses an S-400 air defense system among other military assets such as attack aircraft. According to reports, the Ukrainian strike targeted these critical facilities, potentially affecting several Russian air defense systems, including S-400 and S-300 systems. The extent of the damage includes the destruction of three S-400 launchers and a radar unit in the first wave of missiles, followed by subsequent strikes that compromised the base’s repair and maintenance capabilities.

The S-400 Triumph, developed by Russia's Almaz Central Design Bureau, is an advanced air defense missile system designed to engage a wide range of aerial threats, including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and ballistic and cruise missiles, at ranges of up to 400 kilometers. It is known for its ability to track and engage multiple targets simultaneously, thanks to its sophisticated radar systems and multiple interceptor missiles. The system is highly modular, allowing for integration with other air defense systems, and can be deployed within five minutes, making it one of the most versatile and formidable air defense systems in operation today.

Additional reports from on-the-ground sources and the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) indicated a series of powerful secondary explosions at the site, with at least six fires detected around the airbase following the attack. These incidents underscore a calculated effort by Ukrainian forces to weaken Russian military operations in the region.

The attack also raises questions about the involvement of weapon systems supplied by the United States, with some unverified claims suggesting that Ukraine used the MGM-140 (ATACMS) tactical missile system in the strike. Debris purportedly from the attack was shown in the media but has not been conclusively identified.

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Satellite images from March this year showed the presence of S-300 or S-400 surface-to-air missile systems on the airfield, supporting claims about the strategic importance of the base and its defense assets (Picture source: X Channel @MT Anderson)

In total, the Ukrainian armed forces reportedly launched about 12 missiles, with an initial strike of 7 missiles followed by 5 in the second wave. They struck areas in a dispersed manner, damaging not only equipment but also buildings. According to some sources, the second strike targeted the reception and repair point of military equipment of the 77th anti-air missile brigade. At that time, two S-300 launchers (of an unspecified modification) were in service there.

As a strategic military site, Dzhankoi has been integral to Russia's operations since the beginning of its large-scale invasion of Ukraine. The base not only serves as a logistics and repair center but also supports active military aircraft, including Ka-52 Hokum and Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopters, as well as Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack jets. The status of these aircraft following the attack remains to be confirmed.

Previously, on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, Ukraine had claimed the destruction of an S-400 anti-aircraft system on Russian territory in Crimea, without providing details on the location where the equipment had been destroyed.

Recent developments suggest that Russia may be relocating helicopters from Dzhankoi to another base in Kirovski, east of Crimea, possibly in response to the threat level. This action highlights the ongoing strategic movements and the high-risk nature of military assets in contested areas.

This latest strike is part of a broader pattern of Ukrainian operations targeting Russian military infrastructure in Crimea, following previous reports of their destruction near Olenivka on Cape Tarkhankut and between the villages of Molochne, Uyutne, and Zaozerne. Both sides continue to maneuver both militarily and in their public relations campaigns to manage the fallout and strategic implications of such incidents.

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