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Ukrainian forces critically lacking in sky control to stop Russians – The Times

Saturday, 22 April 2023, 13:56
Ukrainian forces critically lacking in sky control to stop Russians – The Times
STINGER MANPADS, PHOTO BY MIL.IN.UA

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are seriously lacking in anti-aircraft assets and may lose control of its skies to Russia, according to secret Pentagon documents obtained by the media.

Source: The Times

Details: The journalists spoke to the Ukrainian military, who noted that Russia has the technology of better defence against the Stinger MANPADS. A soldier states that the Ukrainian troops launched two missiles, hoping the second one will hit the target.

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Quote: "We have used anti-tank missiles against them too and it stopped them from sending helicopters far into our territory because they were scared they would get hit.

But now the Russians know we are running low on ammunition and they are getting bolder. There are more and more helicopters and aircraft coming every day and they are starting to realise we can't stop them."

More details: The top-secret Pentagon documents revealed weaknesses in the Ukrainian army and made a wake-up call.

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They have suggested, among other things, that Ukraine is so short of anti-aircraft assets that it could lose control of its skies to Russia as early as May, just as it is preparing for a ground offensive to regain lost territory.

The leaked documents state that Russia has improved its FAB-500 bomb by giving it wings and a GPS system, allowing it to be dropped from a military aircraft and fly to its intended target without the aircraft ever entering hostile airspace or coming under fire.

Such a bomb, dropped by a Su-34 jet, caused an accidental strike on the Russian city of Belgorod, which injured at least three people. Analysts attribute the rise in such incidents to a sharp increase in the number of Russian military flights.

Ukrainian military officials are now considering how to provide air cover for troops in an offensive. The country’s allies have not yet responded to its requests for F-16 jets.

Ukrainian soldiers showed the news agency how their ammunition supplies were dwindling at a drone control base in an abandoned house a few miles from the Russian foxholes. A large monitor showed a feed from a Ukrainian drone hovering near the Russian positions, showing several men moving forward. "If there are less than ten of them, it's a waste of a mortar; we need them to hit their artillery," said one of the soldiers.

The US $6,000 drone, equipped with night vision cameras, is one of the most expensive used by the unit. As the journalists write, other commercial models cost about US $3,000, many of which were purchased through crowdfunding.

However, the Russians are improving their UAV jamming assets, using systems the military believes have recently arrived from China. The most popular drone used by the Ukrainians is a Chinese commercial model. Russia’s greater success in jamming them has led to speculation on the Ukrainian side that Beijing is helping them do so.

According to the media, there are concerns that Russia's advances in jamming drones will result in thousands of Ukraine's UAVs being put out of action, with little prospect of finding replacements. While drones have been recognised as one of Ukraine's most effective and cheapest weapons since the beginning of the conflict, they have become even more important now that ammunition is running low and accurate targeting is critical to preserve supplies.

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