The Ukraine War Is Still An Air – The air war over Ukraine continues in line with the heavy fighting on the ground.
The Ukrainian Air Force is conducting long-range strikes against targets hundreds of miles behind the front lines.
It uses British Storm Shadow and French SCALP-EG cruise missiles in doing so.
On the other side, although the Russian Aerospace Forces made a notable contribution in the initial days and weeks of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, they have failed to significantly alter the operational battlefield.
Ukraine: The Tactical Air War
Since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in early June, Russian Aerospace Forces have taken a more active role in the fighting, averaging about 100 combat sorties a day. These sorties are a combination of attack helicopters and fighter jets firing stand-off munitions.
“Russia has attempted to overcome this issue by increasingly using basic free-fall bombs with range-extending glide attachments. Aircraft can release these many kilometers from their targets, but they have yet to demonstrate consistent accuracy,” British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate on the progress of the conflict.
“At the start of Ukraine’s southern counter-offensive from June 2023, Russian attack helicopters proved effective. However, in recent weeks Russia appears to have been less able to generate effective tactical airpower in the south,” British Military Intelligence added.
On the other hand, the Ukrainian Air Force focuses on air defense and long-range strike missions against Russian logistical and command and control targets.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
With the Ukrainian counteroffensive in its second phase, Russian forces are now losing between 150 to 350 troops more each day than they did for the majority of June. Yesterday, Moscow lost just over 800 men, and today, it lost just shy of 600.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 252,200 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 313 attack and transport helicopters; 4,278 tanks; 5,028 artillery pieces; 8,303 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 711 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 18 boats and cutters; 7,495 vehicles and fuel tanks; 469 anti-aircraft batteries; 4,179 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 746 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 1,377 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The Russian military continues to put up a skillful defense against the Ukrainian counteroffensive. But the casualties it is suffering in the process make it unlikely that it will be able to mount a successful large-scale offensive in the future. The war is one of attrition.
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.
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