Two of Putin's best pilots have been killed by a HIMARS (high mobility artillery rocket systems) missile in Ukraine, reports said.
Maksim Potyomin, 41, a fighter pilot with the rank of lieutenant colonel, died when his motorcade was hit by precision-guided rocket artillery in Donetsk on July 8. The same attack is thought to have killed Colonel Anatoly Stasyukevich, 54, also a fighter pilot, the Daily Mail reports.
"The motorcade of Lt-Col Maksim Potyomin and Colonel Anatoly Stasyukevich was hit by a precision US-supplied HIMARS (high mobility artillery rocket systems) missile in a strike which is believed to have been targeted. The two fighter pilots, who were deployed in the Donetsk region, were part of Moscow's most decorated military," reports the Daily Express.
Lt-Col Potyomin and Col Stasyukevich, 54, fought in the same unit in the town of Krymsk, in Krasnodar Krai.
They died on July 8 but the news of the attack only emerged later.
Kyiv last month hailed the arrival of eight HIMARS in Ukraine as a possible game-changer for the course of the conflict, now about to hit the half-year mark.
News of the fighters' deaths followed claims by Russia that it had destroyed four of Ukraine's HIMARS missiles, which Kyiv rejected as "fake".
Russia's defence ministry said on Friday "four launchers and one reloading vehicle for the US-made multiple launch rocket systems (HIMARS) were destroyed" between July 5 and 20, Daily Express said.