The value of the aviation equipment located at the time of Tuesday’s explosions at the Saki air base in Crimea can be estimated at an amount of 650-850 million dollars, according to the calculations of the Ukrainian editorial office of “Forbes”.
On August 9, a series of explosions rocked the airfield at Saki near the village of Novofedorovka, destroying between 8 and 24 Russian air force units, mostly fighter and reconnaissance aircraft, according to various sources. “Forbes” made an assessment of the damage depending on the number and class of equipment that can be assumed to have been destroyed by satellite images. With the caveat that the satellite image cannot give a full picture of the overall extent of the damage.
A few hours before the explosions, the American company Planet Labs published satellite photos of the airport, which showed that more than 20 aircraft (according to open-source intelligence enthusiasts – 37 aircraft) were standing near the airport. The machines on the stands before the “incident of unknown origin,” according to Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat, were mostly Su-30SM fighters and Su-24MR reconnaissance planes, one IL-76 heavy military transport and several helicopters.
Using various sources, Forbes estimates that before the explosions, planes worth between $650 million and $850 million were located at the airport.
Ukraine has not officially confirmed that Ukrainian armed forces were involved in the explosions. In Russia, they say that the cause of them was negligence and a fire in warehouses with aviation ammunition. This version, according to Forbes, is doubtful, since the first videos from the site and satellite photos show that several explosions sounded almost simultaneously near the airport, the distance between the epicenters of the explosions about 750 meters. Photos after the explosion show a significant amount of destroyed and damaged equipment, technical buildings were destroyed.
Speculative media versions allow an MLRS HIMARS strike by an ATACMS missile with a range of up to 300 kilometers (one that is not officially delivered to Ukraine), a strike by a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile or an American Harpoon, a drone attack or sabotage. None of the versions has yet been confirmed by the available facts.
Forbes estimates the approximate cost of Russian military aircraft (in some cases there may be circumstances that cause a significant fluctuation in the price of individual units):
Su-30SM – 50 million dollars
Su-24MR – 6 million dollars
Il-76 – 86 million dollars
President Zelensky, in an evening video address to Ukrainians on August 10, said that Russia had lost 9 military aircraft at Saki airport. The Ukrainian investigators of “Schemes” also give a similar amount. Exactly what planes were destroyed is not specified at this stage. If we assume that all nine aircraft lost were the cheaper Su-24MR, then the total amount of Russian losses is about $55 million, and if the more expensive Su-30SM is $450 million.
Analysts from the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and The New York Times wrote that at least eight Russian planes “worth tens of millions of dollars” burned at the airport, without specifying which ones.
The open-source intelligence project UA Weapons Tracker estimated that at least 11 aircraft were destroyed at Novofedorovka airport – five Su-30SM fighters and six Su-24MR strike reconnaissance aircraft. In this case, the explosions in Novofedorovka cost Russia about $ 300 million. Intelligence suggests that there may be more planes destroyed – possibly four more planes were destroyed in addition to the confirmed 11, but this has not yet been proven.
The international intelligence community InformNapalm claims that satellite images do not show the full effect of the strike. According to their Crimean sources, Russian aircraft losses after the strike were: eight Su-27s, four Su-30SMs, five Su-24s, six Mi-8s and one Il-20, totaling about $380 million.