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On the assessment of the actions of Russian fighter aircraft and air defense in the zone of a special military operation in Ukraine
Material posted: Publication date: 14-11-2022
The assessment was carried out based on the analysis of a number of open sources. The estimated number of Russian fighters who took part in the operation does not exceed 120 Su-35S, Su-30SM and MiG-31BM.

All known cases of aerial combat involved a pair of Russian fighters. The interception of Ukrainian aircraft was carried out using guidance from AWACS aircraft or ground operators, all launches were carried out out of sight.

The Russian air defense was also mostly successful. Significantly reducing the threat from Ukrainian Tochka-U ballistic missiles, combat aircraft, UAVs and large-caliber rockets. During the first four days of its operation, at least four MiG-29s and two Su-27s (or under one Su-27 and L-39) of the Ukrainian Air Force were shot down by Russian aircraft without losses on their part.

Ukrainian applications for downed Russian planes have not been confirmed. At the subsequent stage, Ukrainian aircraft were transferred to safer places on the territory of the country in order to avoid missile strikes, as well as to intercept Russian aircraft and missiles heading into the interior of the country. Ukrainian pilots recognized that it was practically impossible to carry out capture for launches of missiles with radar guidance, all successful interceptions were made by IR-guided missiles.

By the beginning of the conflict, the AFU had about 30 MiG-29s, 20-25 Su-27s, about 30 Su-25 attack aircraft, 15 Su-24M front-line bombers and several Su-24MR scouts. At the same time, in March-April, the AFU managed to increase the number of serviceable MiG-29s due to the supply of spare parts from abroad, most likely from Poland.

Speaking about the operations of the VKS, it is noted that from the first day of hostilities, a pair of Su-35S regularly performed patrols over the territory of Russia, and the aircraft were armed with both air-to-air missiles and anti-radar missiles to defeat the identified Ukrainian air defense systems. The defeat of air targets, which were considered a threat to the Russian ground forces, was carried out with the help of R-77-1 missiles. The Su-35S turned out to be quite good for gaining local air supremacy and countering Ukrainian attack aircraft and helicopters. The N035 radar proved to be quite sufficient for the chosen tactics, it could detect and capture low-flying targets at long ranges.

There is a case of interception of a Ukrainian aircraft by three R-77-1 missiles (presumably in May over the Kharkiv region) at a range of 50 km. Moreover, after the launch of the last missile, the Su-35S turned 90 degrees, but the N035 radar was able to maintain contact with the target. Speaking about the MiG-31BM fighter, two cases of interception of Ukrainian aircraft are reported. The first occurred in April, when a front-line bomber Su-24M was shot down by a R–37 missile, and the second - on July 9, when a Su-25 attack aircraft was shot down. The air defense, which is part of the VKS and Ground Forces, proved to be good in terms of the control system. Long-range SAMs were used to intercept Ukrainian Tochka-U missiles and Tu-143 UAVs. The calculations of the SAM noted that the American M31 missiles turned out to be very difficult targets with a small effective scattering area and high speed, and the time window for a successful interception is only 10 seconds.

The Buk-M3 is called the best complex for combating such goals. In order to break through the Russian defense, the AFU often used a mixed volley of old Soviet rockets and new American ones to force the calculations to shoot the ammunition.

Alexandra Mladenov


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