Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues in several directions. Russian forces are throwing everything they have into fighting back, including their air reserves.
Fight in the Skies over Ukraine
The air war over the battlefield continues.
The Russian Aerospace Forces have made a rare comeback, achieving a temporary advantage over the skies where the counteroffensive is taking place.
Over the past two weeks, the Russian military has moved more than 20 attack helicopters close to the frontlines, including Ka-52 Alligator attack choppers. The Ka-52 Alligators are capable and sturdy aircraft that can take a lot of hits before crashing.
“In the constant contest between aviation measures and counter-measures, it is likely that Russia has gained a temporary advantage in southern Ukraine, especially with attack helicopters employing longer-range missiles against ground targets,” British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate.
The Russian helicopters are close to the fighting but not close enough to be within range of Ukraine’s deadly long-range systems, such as the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, or the M982 Excalibur 155mm precision-guided artillery round.
The Ukrainians do have the Storm Shadow cruise missile, but they have prioritized other targets in its use. On Monday, a Storm Shadow cruise missile took out a major Russian ammunition depot in Kherson oblast. The Ukrainian munition destroyed an ammunition storage facility the size of more than four football fields, and ammunition was cooked off for more than six hours.
Transferred by the United Kingdom in May, the Storm Shadow munition is an air-to-ground cruise missile that can hit targets up to 200 miles away. Russian aircraft and air defenses can’t intercept the Storm Shadows.
On day 482 of the war, Russian forces continued to take heavy casualties. The last 24 hours have been some of the bloodiest for the Russian military since the start of the war. Indeed, the Russian military, Wagner Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces lost more than 1,000 men killed, wounded, or captured. In addition, the Russian forces lost almost 100 heavy weapon systems, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery pieces, infantry fighting vehicles, and tactical drones.
Russian forces might be holding on against the Ukrainian counteroffensive, but the price has been very high. In the past two weeks of fighting, more than 10,000 Russian personnel have been lost on the ground. The Kremlin is already feeling the sting and has had to relocate elite formations from other parts of the front to plug holes created by the fighting.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 221,460 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 314 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 306 attack and transport helicopters; 3,997 tanks, 3,888 artillery pieces, and 7,750 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 614 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS); 18 boats and cutters; 6,645 vehicles and fuel tanks; 372 anti-aircraft batteries; 3,393 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 531 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 1,214 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.