In fact, the Russian Air Force is stronger than Ukraine’s.
Ukraine’s recent two-pronged counteroffensive has dealt a severe blow to the Russian military. Surprisingly, the Ukrainian forces advanced rapidly despite the lack of air defense and the fire support of sophisticated fighter jets and bombers. So airspace no longer matters to the course of war?
Anyone who thinks that’s wrong — at least two U.S. military experts, Kelly A. Greco and Maximilian K. When it comes to Bremer, they set the scene for the portal. Security messages have decided.
Yes, airstrikes play a relatively minor role in Ukraine’s playbook, but securing airspace — or “air denial,” as Greco and Bremer call the strategy — has been a prerequisite for Ukraine’s recent success on the battlefield. Two main points are decisive.
1. Ukraine “blind” Russia
The no-aircraft strategy made it easier for Ukraine to use military deception to defeat the Russians in the south. Because: Without air superiority, Russia could not freely deploy its manned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft on the battlefield, limiting its ability to monitor Ukrainian movements. Russia may have used spy drones, but the country has very few of them, and Western sanctions have made it nearly impossible to buy new ones.
US Weapons in Action: Ukrainian pilot launches missile from cockpit(01:00)
Experts say Russia’s other “eyes in the sky” are satellites. However, Russian satellites lack the necessary range and resolution to detect an impending counterattack. Thus, Ukraine practically “blinded” its enemy by denying it air.
2. Russia denied quick responses
Although Russia realized that a Ukrainian counteroffensive was underway, the Russians still could not act quickly enough. The advantage of airborne forces is their ability to fly over the obstacles faced by ground forces, allowing firepower to be quickly maneuvered over long distances. This combination of lethality and responsiveness made the Luftwaffe particularly effective against offensive mechanized ground forces.
While a defender in position is difficult to detect from the air, a moving attacker can generate noise, heat and electronic signals, making them easier to locate and attack. Ukrainian tanks and military vehicles rumbling along highways and open fields in broad daylight should have given the Russian Air Force easy game. But Ukraine’s no-fly strategy prevents Russian pilots from entering Ukrainian airspace and staying there to hunt down targets.
Ukraine should not be too arrogant
Grieco and Bremer agree: Ukraine’s air defense strategy was more of a military necessity than a conscious strategy, given the relatively small Ukrainian air force. The important point, however, is that Ukraine’s success was not based solely on exploiting Russian failures. “An overview of the effects of Ukraine’s deployment in vertical depth, anti-aircraft defenses, electromagnetic interference, drones and missiles, and the advantages of dispersion and mobility” suggested that Ukrainian troops now have the advantage.
However, according to experts, it is important for Ukraine to be aware that any attempt to regain air sovereignty will fail miserably. “Any attempt by Ukraine to gain air superiority will fail for the same reasons as the Russian attempt.” Also: “Russia is on a strategic offensive, and the Ukrainian counteroffensive is exactly that – a response to Russian aggression.” (chs)
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