Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Scary Thought: Has Russia Achieved Air Superiority in Ukraine?

Russian Tu-160 bomber. Image Credit - Creative Commons.
Russian Tu-160 bomber. Image Credit - Creative Commons.

The Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to make steady progress in the Donbas and Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The Ukrainian forces are pushing hard in several directions and are slowly cracking the Russian defenses.

The Russian military has been putting up a skillful and complex defense. And, for the first time in a while, the Russian air force is playing an important tactical role.

Russian Air Force in Action

Since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the Russian air force, or Aerospace Forces, has been playing an increasingly active role in the fighting.

Russian fighter and attack jets and attack helicopters have been conducting sorties in support of the ground forces in the Donbas and Zaporizhzhia.

“This has almost certainly been in response to reports of increased Ukrainian offensive operations, as the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) attempt to support ground troops with air strikes,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

For example, satellite imagery from the airfield in Berdyansk shows that in the last few days, the Russian military has moved 20 new attack and transport helicopters and constructed new revetments on the airfield.

A change of tactics has allowed Russian aircraft to fly on a battlefield full of anti-aircraft systems. Instead of flying at low altitudes, hoping to evade air defenses, Russian aircraft are increasingly deploying stand-off munitions, including glide bombs and air-to-ground cruise missiles, from large distances. This allows Russian aircraft to conduct fire missions while minimizing their risk of getting shot down.

“Since the start of the invasion, the south of Ukraine has often been more permissible for Russian air operations compared to other sectors of the front,” the British Military Intelligence added.

However, the recent uptick in combat sorties doesn’t mean that the Russian air force is flying enough over the battlefield. In the opening phases of the conflict, the Russian Aerospace Forces were conducting an average of 300 sorties every day.

Russian Casualties

Meanwhile, the Russian forces continue to take significant casualties on the ground. On day 476 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the number of Russian casualties continued to rise. On the last day, the Russian military, Wagner Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces suffered approximately 700 losses.

The Russian forces might be putting up a skillful defense against the Ukrainian counteroffensive, but that comes at a heavy cost. In a little over a week, the Russian forces have lost close to 8,000 men. That is an extremely high price to pay for a military force that has been suffering from force generation issues for months.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 217,330 Russian troops, destroyed 314 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 300 attack and transport helicopters, 3,942 tanks, 3,783 artillery pieces, 7,653 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 603 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 6,482 vehicles and fuel tanks, 364 anti-aircraft batteries, 3,324 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 516 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,196 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. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy, Cybersecurity, and Intelligence at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

From 19FortyFive

Footage Shows World War I Guns Being Used in Ukraine 

‘Vacuum Bombs Destroyed’: Ukraine Footage Shows Putin’s Thermobaric Rockets Destroyed

BOOM! Ukraine Video Shows Precision Strike on Russian Air-Defense System

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise 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.