Is Russia reactivating old high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft for war?

Photo fuels speculation
Is Russia reactivating old high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft for war?

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According to British information, Russia’s reconnaissance capabilities in Ukraine are limited. In London it is believed that Moscow’s armed forces have recently started using old aircraft from Soviet times. The starting point for the assumption is a photo from the beginning of November.

The British Ministry of Defense believes it is possible that Russia could bring back an old reconnaissance aircraft in the war of aggression against Ukraine. “Russia is probably considering reinstating the Soviet-era M-55 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft,” the ministry in London said in its daily update.

The aircraft (NATO codename: Mystic B) was most recently used for geoscientific research. However, a machine was observed carrying a military reconnaissance capsule that was developed for use in Russian fighter aircraft. The Ministry of Defense is apparently based on a photo of an M-55 from the beginning of November. According to experts, the machine at Ramenskoye Airport near Moscow carries a conspicuous container under the wing, which was first observed under a Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber during a military maneuver in 2021.

A crucial mistake in the Russian procurement strategy was not to have built up adequate capacities for target detection and reconnaissance, for example, the British write on Platform “It is almost certain that the aircraft will carry out operations against Ukraine from the relatively safe Russian airspace,” it said.

The M-55 is based on the Miyasishchev M-17, which was originally developed in the 1970s and 1980s to defend against Western spy balloons. The first flight took place in 1982, but only a few examples were built until 1994. The further developed aircraft was later given the designation M-55 and was used for research purposes after the end of the Cold War. The reconnaissance aircraft can reach altitudes of up to 21 kilometers and a top speed of 332 kilometers per hour.

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