It took a long time in coming, but imagery is available of the destruction caused at Saki (Saky) air base in Crimea.
Unfortunately, being at real work has delayed this analysis, but it’s worth putting out there anyway. Plus the imagery shows the majority of the airfield rather than just the main parking area. This alone provides some interesting information.
Primarily, the 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea fleet has taken a bit of a hit. Definitely, three Su-30SM’s have been destroyed with one probably damaged. Moreover, four Su-24’s are destroyed in the revetment area – with the possibility of another on the main apron.
The Su-24 on the apron is inconclusive. There’s definitely an area that has been cleared – there’s vehicles around it etc. – but the imagery from earlier in the day doesn’t show an aircraft in that actual spot.
Most certainly, no other aircraft were destroyed where they parked on the main flightline. This is obvious from the ability to see all the “parking squares” and lack of burnt areas. If a Su-24 (or other aircraft) was destroyed at the scorched area then they have removed the wreckage pretty quickly – possibly to hide what happened, but the rest of the airfield gives it all away.
Most of the aircraft destruction is in the revetments – ironically used to protect aircraft from events like this. If only the Russian’s used HAS’s (Hardened Air Shelters) – they may not be feeling the pain. The good news is, they are.
The revetments have given up three Su-24’s and three Su-30’s. A further Su-24 is destroyed at the eastern maintenance minor workshop shed.
And this is where it all gets interesting.
The actual targets.
Two minor workshop sheds have been totally targeted and destroyed. Moreover, two other areas that were targeted – or appeared to have been – were general parking areas used for vehicles and equipment.
It is strange that the two large munitions areas and the fuel depots were also not targeted. And to be honest, if an aircraft has been destroyed on the main flightline, I suspect this is from secondary explosions and fire rather than a direct strike as there is no crater present. Why wasn’t this area targeted?
The area around the parking revetments is dotted with small craters, possibly from debris. But they do look more like explosive craters rather than that caused by falling debris.
A vast majority of the airfield grass areas has been burnt. This could have potentially spread to the burnt out cars that have been seen in videos – though one has certainly been destroyed by debris from explosions. @wammezz on Twitter produced a false-colour image of the whole base which clearly shows the extent of the burnt ground.
There’s been a number of aircraft movements since the event. A Su-30SM is now in the main maintenance area – possibly the one from the revetment nearby that is now missing. And whilst the number of Su-24’s in this area remain the same, either one has been removed/moved, or there’s been a change around.
Obviously, the main flightline has been emptied, as has the eastern secondary line, except for a single Su-30SM. A Su-23 has been relocated to just south of this area.
Three helicopters have departed, whilst the three remaining have been rotated to point east.
Due to costs I couldn’t get a full airfield view from Planet so it is possible some of the aircraft have been moved to the eastern airfield revetments.
There is still no conclusive evidence as to what was used in this attack.
I’ve always thought a Ukrainian SF mission – which I didn’t want to say in the other blog as it was still a recent event and there was a slight OPSEC concern with me to be honest. The Ukrainian armed forces have stated it was a SF mission also.
However, the craters visible do point to a missile strike, with a good friend betting a ATACMS strike.
I’m still torn.
Maybe the maintenance sheds held more than scrap parts of aircraft to keep the main line going from day to day. I’d like to say the Russians aren’t that stupid – but since March, they’ve clearly shown they are.
Whilst it is good to see the evidence of destruction in Crimea – finally – the event has almost created more questions than answers.
The fire behaviour tells an interesting story, the grass/brush fire has run to the South West, from a number of ignition points. From the videos posted, there seems to have been smoke plumes present before the main blasts. There is also a number of fires that are seemingly not related to the main fires. ( to the North, and around the lake to the west of the airbase). How they started is a puzzle. Smoke hides all sorts of things.
The main fire has run into buildings, and clearly the cars parked in the video. They all appear to have blast damage as well.
If it is okay:
Here is a picture of the full air field:
I can spot 7 planes on the wider area. I don’t know how this areas on the base are called, but 3 planes seems in alert start parking position and 4 on the fore field parking area.
Great. Thanks for this 👍
More questions than answers – munitions and fuel untouched, construction sheds precisely targeted. Did whatever made the craters also make the fireballs, or were they secondary? Why during the day?
The consensus seems to be one of confusion as to how this operation was carried out (assuming there was an operation carried out). Do you suppose the Russians are similarly confused about what happened and how? If so, it will be rather difficult for them to figure out what to do to prevent or mitigate any future attacks. If this was a Ukrainian military operation it is succeeding in more ways than one.
I think they are confused in many ways to be honest. One thing is for sure, they need to buck up their ideas if they want to try and stop these things from happening again (though obviously I don’t want them to succeed in this)
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Denys Davydov has good before and after pictures
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Any thoughts on where the steel beam that impaled the car originated?
Doesn’t seem to be any blown up buildings nearby
It probably came from the western workshop. The size of the explosions were enough to make it travel that far.
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