Russia Just Shot Down One of Their Own Best Fighter Bombers

Wes O'Donnell
3 min readJul 22, 2022
Russian air force Su-34 performing at MAKS 2013. Public domain.

The Russians have a problem.

Their surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems are good. Maybe too good.

Or, at least too good to let them be operated by lightly-trained boneheads in the Luhansk People’s Republic.

Remember, these are the same separatists who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 killing all 298 civilians.

Now, this deadly system just shot down one of Russia’s brand-new Sukhoi Su-34M fighter-bombers, a modernized variant which was only delivered to the Russian air force less than a month ago.

Taking to Telegram, Russian propagandist Yevgeny Poddubny captured video of the shoot-down over the city of Alchevsk in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine.

“Last night, the air-defense crew of the allied forces destroyed a target in the sky over Alchevsk,” Poddubny wrote Monday. “The nature of the target is not clear. The burning ball fell to the ground for more than a minute.”

Well Yevgeny, you might want to do a head count of your pilots before you brag.

But according to David Axe from Forbes, a video of the wreckage confirmed the plane’s identity: an Su-34M with the registry RF-95890, one of just ten Su-34Ms that Sukhoi has so far delivered to the Russian air force.

The Russians refer to the Su-34 as a 4++generation fighter bomber. It was built to compete with America’s F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle.

But aren’t there safeguards to prevent friendly fire in the skies?

Modern air forces use what’s called identification friend or foe (IFF) to parse friendly aircraft from hostile.

Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security Wonk for War is Boring, GEN, OneZero, Soldier of Fortune | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Founder of Warrior Lodge