Ukraine Destroyed a Russian Su-24M Strike Aircraft over the Black Sea

Su-24M
December 7, 2023 Topic: military Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkraineWar In UkraineSu-24MRussian Air Force

Ukraine Destroyed a Russian Su-24M Strike Aircraft over the Black Sea

Ukrainian anti-aircraft gunners successfully downed a Russian Su-24M (NATO reporting name "Fencer-D") over the Black Sea on Tuesday.

Ukrainian anti-aircraft gunners successfully downed a Russian Su-24M (NATO reporting name "Fencer-D") over the Black Sea on Tuesday. The Soviet-era supersonic, all-weather tactical bomber was reported to be near Snake Island (also known as Zmiinyi Island), which is about 30 miles from the Ukrainian coastline and near Romania.

The jet was also reported to have been on a strike mission and was escorted by a Su-30SM multirole fighter jet.

"I am pleased to inform you that Russia's Su-24M bomber, which attempted to launch a missile and air strike on the south of the Odesa region under the cover of the Su-30SM fighter, was destroyed near Snake Island," Commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on the social messaging app Telegram.

Oleshchuk also joked, "It seems that the cruiser 'Moskva' will soon become an aircraft carrier!" – A reference to the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet flagship that was sunk in April 2022 by Ukrainian land-based anti-ship missiles.

Improved Ukrainian Air Defenses

The downing of the Su-24M came just two weeks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that his nation's military was preparing to deploy "very powerful air defenses" to the oblast around Odesa, Ukraine's strategic grain port.

Snake Island was targeted by Russian forces in the first hours of the unprovoked invasion on February 24, 2022. The Ukrainian personnel stationed at the remote Black Sea outpost gained infamy for their expletive-laden response to a Russian warship's demands for surrender. Last June, Moscow announced that it was retreating from the island as a gesture of "goodwill," but it came under frequent attacks from Kyiv's forces.

The type of surface-to-air missile (SAM) employed in the downing of the Su-24M hasn't been identified, but David Axe – writing for Forbes.com – suggested that Kyiv may have deployed American-made Patriot batteries armed with PAC-2 missiles, which have a range of 100-miles, to the region.

Kyiv has claimed to have destroyed 324 Russian aircraft during the 21-month-long conflict. The Kremlin has not responded to the news of the loss of its bomber.

Scoring a Hit on the Su-24 Fencer

The Sukhoi Su-24M is an upgraded variant of the Cold War-era aircraft that was first developed during the 1960s. It features a variable-sweep wing, twin engines, and a side-by-side seating arrangement for its two-person crew. The Fencer was the first Soviet aircraft designed to utilize an integrated digital navigation/attack system.

The Su-24 is powered by two Salyut AL-21F-3 engines.

According to Russian state media, the Cold War-era tactical bomber has a maximum speed of 1,000 miles per hour and a range of roughly 370 miles at altitude. In addition to its 23mm GSh-6-23M cannon, the Su-24 has eight hardpoints that can carry a combination of guided air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, unguided rockets, and freefall bombs. 

The Fencer is also nuclear-capable.

It was initially developed to penetrate hostile territory and to destroy ground and surface targets in all weather conditions, by and night. Noted to be fast and stable at low-level, and capable of carrying an impressive loadout, its avionics were considered unreliable.

As a result, the Soviet-era bomber was never seen as capable as Western attack aircraft. Moreover, while the Su-24 entered frontline service in 1973, it was only deployed in combat in the mid-1980s during the Soviet-Afghan War.

Several variants of the Su-24 have been produced, including those designed for surveillance and electronic countermeasures.

The Upgraded Fencer-D

The Su-24M (Fencer-D) upgraded model first entered service in 1984. It featured cutting-edge technology for the era, including a then-new Su-24 computer, liquid crystal displays, an ILS-31 head-up display, a digital moving map, and a global positioning system.

In 2010, the Russian Air Force began replacing the Su-24 with the Su-35.

The Fencer is now among the older military aviation platforms to see active service in the ongoing war in Ukraine, but both sides have employed it. It was reported last year that a number in service with the Ukrainian Air Force has been equipped with Kh-25 air-to-ground missiles, which can be fired at low altitudes on Russian targets, including forward operating bases and armored vehicles.

Author Experience and Expertise

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.