Espreso. Global

F-16 in Ukraine will prompt surge in downed Russian aircraft — military expert Serhiy Zgurets

26 December, 2023 Tuesday

If the Russian fighters had been downed by F-16s, the tally of destroyed Russian aircraft would likely have been greater. The outcome of five downed Russian aircraft in a short span suggests that limited means, such as anti-aircraft missile systems, were likely employed 

Bad days for Russian aviation

The urgent priority in the near future will be reinforcing Ukraine's air defense system, given the substantial threat posed by Russia's use of aviation to attack Ukrainian territory. It's noteworthy to revisit discussions on Russian fighter jet air raids. In the past few days, five Russian military aircraft have been successfully downed at distances that Russia had perceived as safe.

In particular, on November 22, 3 Su-34 aircraft were shot down in the southern direction. After that, Ukrainian air defense forces shot down a Su-30SM multirole fighter and a Su-34 frontline bomber. This information was confirmed today by Ukraine’s General Staff. The Russian Su-34 was downed in the Mariupol direction, and the Su-30 in the Black Sea. According to the General Staff, these two aircraft were trying to use airborne guided missiles from areas previously considered inaccessible to our air defense systems.

However, now the Russian planes have faced the skill of our militaries and their new capabilities in terms of long-range air defense systems. The Ukrainian Air Force Command did not say what exactly shot down the planes. Therefore, it is likely that these were Patriot or SAMP-T systems. Russia has not yet been able to adapt to the new realities. As a result, for two consecutive days, Russia has refrained from deploying guided aerial bombs. Specifically, in the Krynky area, Ukrainian marines can now operate without the threat of Russian deployment of these weapons.

Russian Su-30SM multi-role fighter jet (photo: Getty Images)

SBU demonstrates new Kozak Mamai maritime drone

The Security Service of Ukraine (known by its Ukrainian acronym SBU) demonstrated its surface maritime drone Kozak Mamai. This drone, together with Sea Baby, was used in operations against Russian ships and the Crimean Bridge. There is little information about this new surface drone so far.

Journalist Andriy Tsaplienko, who had a unique opportunity to see the production and talk to the developers of these drones, said that Kozak Mamai is now the fastest object in the Black Sea. It can reach speeds of up to 110 km/h, is 6 meters long, and has a surveillance camera equipped with satellite communication systems.

I can assume that Kozak Mamai has a range of up to 800 kilometers and different versions of the combat load. The head of the SBU said that surface maritime drones are mass-produced in Ukraine. It is also worth mentioning that we have drones developed by the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine. In particular, Magura V5.

Naval surface drone "Kozak Mamai" (photo: Screenshot from video)

Ukrainian air defense forces managed to shoot down Su-30SM and Kh-31P missiles simultaneously

Military expert Ivan Kyrychevskyi from Defense Express believes that Russia's reactions and speculations about how and with what their aircraft might have been shot down suggest that the Ukrainian Armed Forces may not only possess several new formidable air defense systems but also employ a novel method for countering Russian aviation.

In addition to the significant news of Russian fighter jets being destroyed, one crucial detail should not be overlooked: the destruction of the Kh-31P supersonic missile. This means that our defenders successfully intercepted both the Su-30SM fighter jet and the potentially threatening Kh-31P missile simultaneously.

Russian aircraft were not shot down by F-16s

Ivan Kyrychevskyi holds the belief that if Russian fighters had been downed by F-16s, the count of destroyed Russian aircraft would likely have been higher. According to our air force, up to 30 aircraft can operate in Ukrainian airspace daily. Therefore, the outcome of five destroyed Russian aircraft in a short period suggests that limited means, such as anti-aircraft missile systems, were likely instrumental in achieving this result.

According to Kyrychevskyi, if the F-16 were operating in the Ukrainian airspace, we would likely witness effective strikes on Russian ground targets. Additionally, as the expert pointed out, Ukrainian Air Force aircraft typically fly at very low altitudes, making them easily noticeable. Currently, determining the specific means used to shoot down Russian fighters might not be as crucial as the fact that the Russian approach of indiscriminately bombing Ukrainian cities and military positions with aviation is being disrupted. Kyrychevskyi suggests that if the pace of Russian aircraft destruction continues to rise, Russian tactical aviation may cease to be a significant presence on the battlefield within six months.

Russia plans to build a new railroad along the occupied Sea of Azov

Ivan Kyrychevskyi said that Russia want to build a railroad along the Azov Sea coast to create an alternative to the Crimean Bridge. There are two components here - good and bad. The bad is that the occupiers are preparing an alternative logistics route. The good is that the Russians realize that sooner or later the Crimean Bridge will be destroyed. According to the expert, Russia wants to build a parallel corridor to the existing railroad. Ukrainian military tried to take control of the railroad that goes from Melitopol to Tokmak and then to Polohy. The Russians want to build a parallel railroad to this one. However, when Russian propagandists justify this project, they directly complain that our sabotage and reconnaissance groups have been very active and are still working along the railroad. Therefore, their logistics routes by rail will always be at risk of being blocked.

Update from Marinka direction

Ukrainian military forces maintain control over specific neighborhoods in Marinka and are establishing zones for intense and concentrated fire attacks on Russian military convoys. This situation has been ongoing for the past few weeks. According to Kyrychevskyi, a more comprehensive understanding of the current events will become available in due course.

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