Three Russian Tu-22 M3 Bombers Sabotaged By Ukraine; Kyiv Makes Rare Admission Of Covert August Ops

On January 23, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency (HUR) disclosed that a Ukrainian reconnaissance unit, under the command of the late Colonel Oleh Babii, played a critical role in the destruction/incapacitation of three Russian Tu-22M3 bombers in August 2023.

Last year, a series of attacks, credited by Ukrainian media to Ukraine’s military intelligence, inflicted damage or destruction upon multiple Russian Air Force Tu-22M3 bombers.  

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency has now officially acknowledged Kyiv’s responsibility for sabotaging at least three of these aircraft, divulging additional operational details. 

The intelligence agency emphasized that the sabotage, involving the destruction and incapacitation of three Russian Tu-22M3 bombers, dealt a severe blow to the plans of the Russian military and political leadership. 

The operation not only thwarted their intentions to launch missile strikes on Ukrainian territory but also wholly disrupted the functioning of critical airfields and long-range aircraft bases.

File Image: Tu-223M

The Tu-22M3, a supersonic long-range strategic bomber developed during the Cold War by the Soviet Union, is a crucial asset for Russia’s Long-Range Aviation Division in targeting critical infrastructure in Ukraine. 

These bombers, armed with AS-4 heavy anti-ship missiles, are regularly utilized by Russian forces to carry out devastating strikes in Ukraine, including the heavy bombardment of Mariupol in 2022 using unguided bombs.

Russia initially claimed that these airstrikes were to impede the transportation of military hardware from Western nations to Ukraine and obstruct the routes utilized by Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions for moving supplies and equipment. 

On the other hand, Ukraine has consistently aimed to target these bombers, recognizing their pivotal role in Russia’s ability to strike Ukraine throughout the ongoing conflict. 

Previous reports from EurAsian Times revealed attempts by Ukrainian intelligence operatives to persuade a Russian pilot to defect with his Tu-22M3 strategic bomber, offering a compensation of US$1 million.

Last year, Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukrainian military intelligence, asserted that a series of strikes against these bombers last summer had reduced the Russian Air Force’s operational fleet to 27 Tu-22M3 strategic bombers.  

Details Of Operation

According to Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, the Ukrainian reconnaissance unit, under the command of the late Colonel Oleh Babii, is credited with the destruction or incapacitation of three Russian Tu-22M3 bombers in August 2023. 

During the mission, Babii and his team covered over 600 kilometers on foot, traversing enemy territory to thwart the Russian bombardment of Ukrainian cities.

Advancing into the Russian rear, the unit successfully executed its mission by destroying one bomber and disabling two others, disrupting the operation of airfields and air bases. 

The military intelligence agency reported that the operation inflicted substantial economic losses on the enemy country and induced panic among the local population and Russian military personnel.

However, while heading back to Ukrainian-held territory, the unit faced an ambush by Russian forces, resulting in an unequal confrontation on August 30, 2023. During this engagement, Colonel Babii lost his life while protecting the retreat of his soldiers, as documented in the official report.

Ukrainian Lieutenant Colonel Oleh Babii was killed in action on Aug. 30, 2023. (HUR)

His wife and two children survive him. In recognition of his courageous actions, Oleg Babii was posthumously honored with the title of Hero of Ukraine, accompanied by the prestigious “Golden Star” order. 

The colonel, recognized as a seasoned officer, had led nine reconnaissance forays into the Russian rear and orchestrated 12 special operations within Russia or in support of resistance in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, as revealed by the military agency.

Babii’s leadership was also instrumental in identifying up to 70 crucial strategic objects of the enemy, including command posts, military equipment, and fortification structures. 

The Armed Forces of Ukraine utilized the information gleaned from these discoveries to strategize operations to liberate temporarily occupied territories and inflict damage on vital enemy targets.

The military agency further highlighted the substantial impact of Babii’s operations on the course of the war, noting that the successful execution of tasks by his group disrupted the logistics of Russian forces, leading to the destruction of essential facilities and critical infrastructure. 

“Entire divisions of the Russian occupation forces lost combat capability, the system of commanding troops and weapons, suffered communication disruptions, and thus suffered losses of efficiency in interaction with their rear,” the agency described.