One of Russia’s nine operational A-50 command planes was reportedly destroyed (Picture: E2W)One of Russia’s most valuable military planes has been shot down near Ukraine, according to reports. The Soviet-era command and reconnaissance plane uses high-range radar to detect missiles and aircraft on the battlefield while issuing orders to Russian fighter jets. A Russian pilot was reportedly heard in intercepted communications telling commanders he witnessed the plane catch fire and fall from the sky. On the same evening, another key Russian command plane was reportedly hit by Ukrainian missiles and forced to return to base. ‘When the plane was hit, the bridge had an alarm, and traffic was blocked.