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Russian Cruise Missile Flies Through Polish Airspace During Air Strike On Ukraine – Reports

Russian missile in Polish airspace
Highlighted in the image above, the area where, according to the Polish authorities, a Russian missile entered the Polish airspace. (Image by The Aviationist using a PANSA image).

According to the Polish Government, a Russian missile crossed Poland’s airspace during an attack on Ukraine.

According to General staff of the Polish Armed Forces, an “unidentified object”, later identified as a Russian cruise missile, entered Polish airspace early in the morning on Dec. 29, 2023.

The missile travelled about 40 km (25 miles) for 3 minutes, into Poland’s airspace. Polish and NATO radar systems tracked the missile and F-16s “patrolling the area” were directed towards the area of the violation (according to some sources, the F-16s were scrambled after the intrusion).

The official statement roughly translates as follow.

We would like to inform you that on Friday at At 7.12 local time, from the side of the border with Ukraine, there was a violation of Polish airspace by an object that left Polish territory after less than three minutes. We identify it as a Russian cruise missile.

At all times, the missile’s flight path was tracked by radar systems, both Polish and allied. Air defense systems remained ready for use. In addition, F-16 aircraft patrolling the area were directed to the area where the missile crossed Polish airspace. Additionally, in order to verify data from radar systems, forces and resources from the land forces, air forces and territorial defense forces were deployed to trace the object’s flight trajectory on the earth’s surface.

We would like to thank the inhabitants of the Lublin region for their vigilance, cooperation and understanding towards the actions of soldiers of the Polish Army and officers of other uniformed services. Further information will be provided on an ongoing basis.

The alert coincided with what Ukraine has called Russia’s biggest day of air strikes since its war began. According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, a total of 158 missiles and UAVs were fired against Ukraine; 87 missiles and 27 Shaheds were shot down by Ukrainian air defense.

Little is known about the type of cruise missile that intruded into the Polish airspace: among the weaponry used by the Russian Aerospace Forces in Ukraine, there are the KH-101/KH-555/KH-55 air-launched cruise missiles, the S-300s in surface-to-surface mode and the Kinzhal aero-ballistic hypersonic missiles.

There were rumors on social media, not confirmed by any side thus far, that a Russian Tu-22M3 Backfire was shot down during the air strikes. In the last few days, the Ukrainian Air Force said it had managed to shoot down a total of six Su-34 Fullback strike aircraft (three of those on Dec. 22; one on Dec. 24 and two more on Dec. 25).

President Andrzej Duda convened an emergency security meeting; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg released a statement on X saying that he had spoken with Duda about the “missile incident” and said NATO remains vigilant and monitoring the situation “as the facts are established.”

This is not the first time an unauthorized object has entered Poland’s airspace from Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. In November 2022, two farmers died when a missile, believed to be a Ukrainian air defense missile, caused an explosion outside the rural eastern Polish village of Przewodow, about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) west of the Ukrainian border.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

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