Feb 27 (Reuters) – Belarusian anti-government activists said they had blown up a sophisticated Russian military surveillance aircraft in a drone attack at an airfield near the Belarusian capital Minsk, a claim that neither Russia nor Belarus confirmed.
The plane – a Beriev A-50 aircraft – has the NATO reporting name of Mainstay and is an airborne early warning aircraft with command and control capabilities and the ability to track up to 60 targets at a time.
Belarus, a staunch Russian ally, has allowed Moscow to use its territory to launch attacks on Ukraine, though so far has held off from getting directly involved in the war.
“They were drones (that carried out the attack). The participants of the operation are Belarusians,” Aliaksandr Azarov, leader of Belarusian anti-government organization BYPOL, was quoted as saying on Sunday on the organisation’s Telegram messaging app and on the Poland-based Belsat news channel.
Belarusian Hajun said that the plane, worth $330 million, had arrived in Belarus on January 3 this year and made 12 flights in 54 days. The aircraft was previously in Belarus on February 24, 2022, the day the full-scale invasion started.