Espreso. Global

Noteworthy details in defense-industrial, military-political spheres amid Zelenskyy’s visit to US - military expert Zgurets

13 December, 2023 Wednesday

During this visit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the executives of 8 leading American companies. Among other things, it was proposed to create a kind of defense hub in Europe, more specifically in Ukraine

Details of the Ukrainian president’s visit to the United States

Amid the Ukrainian president's working visit to the United States, I would like to mention some noteworthy details in the defense industry and military-political sphere. During this visit, Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the executives of 8 leading American companies, including BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Day & Zimmermann, Boeing, RTX, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics. Among other things, it was proposed to create a kind of defense hub in Europe, more specifically in Ukraine.

In my opinion, the word hub in this sense means a real integration between the capacities of American and Ukrainian companies to obtain concrete results in the form of modernized or new weapons and equipment systems. It was said that to realize this idea, Ukraine is ready to make the necessary decisions very quickly, simplify bureaucratic procedures, and place the appropriate orders. It is not yet known what exactly the reaction of these defense companies will be, because the budget of these companies is larger than the budget of the whole of Ukraine. And this vision of these monsters will be extremely important for the formation of a real strategy of interaction with the Ukrainian defense industry. Although some companies, such as BAE Systems, have already said that they are ready to start manufacturing guns in Ukraine.

On the heels of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to the United States, The New York Times reported that Ukraine and the United States should develop a new action plan for the next year. However, the development of such a new strategy for the Ukrainian-Russian war, which is being worked on by the US and Ukrainian militaries, still needs some coordination. This article states that the US position now looks conservative, as it suggests that Ukraine should first of all pay more attention to the defense of its territories. At the same time, it will be necessary to dig in harder, continue to supply weapons to Ukraine and prepare forces for the next war, but for 2025. And Ukraine, they say, emphasizes more active actions with intensified attacks on land, as well as from the air, using long-range missiles. As an example, they cite Ukraine's active actions to strike Crimea, ammunition depots, and enemy logistics.

The American publication writes that the Ukrainian military is looking for creative ways to throw Russia off balance. As usual, the publication does not refer to specific officials. So we cannot say for sure whether such strategies exist or not. But these strategies do not contradict each other.

Active defense. And this is likely the reality that the Armed Forces will face next year, but this does not remove the task of depleting the enemy using all possible means of destruction. The main thing is to have enough of them.

There is also important information that the commander of the US Army in Europe, Christopher Cavoli, will be responsible for preparing further plans on the American side. The United States is also sending a three-star American general to Kyiv to join the development of a new war strategy, which should be developed by January 2024. And then some elements are to be worked out during the staff games in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Regarding the staff games, I would say that, even before the offensive, there were as many as eight such staff games in the south, where various scenarios were practiced. It was decided then that Ukraine should still attack, without having air superiority and even without having a numerical advantage. When we talk about such a coordinated position of the Ukrainian and American militaries, we should first draw conclusions and results from the fighting in 2023.

Frontline situation

Currently, the overall intensity of hostilities along the entire frontline is extremely active. The two commanders of the Khortytsia and Tavria commands, Oleksandr Syrskyi and Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, made several news reports over the past two days. They said that the Russian forces had intensified their actions throughout the entire area, trying to put pressure on our defense. Commenting on the situation along the entire section from Kupyansk to Bakhmut, Oleksandr Syrskyi said that the Russian losses were 8 times higher than the losses of Ukrainian forces. Despite this, the invaders rely primarily on human resources.

Kyrylo Sazonov, a soldier with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said that his unit recently left the north of Bakhmut, where the fiercest fighting is taking place, namely Bohdanivka and Hryhorivka. There is not much left of these settlements, just a pile of bricks. The enemy is advancing in the direction of Chasiv Yar. This is the dominant height near Bakhmut, to the north of it, so whoever controls it can shell Bakhmut. In this way, the Russian troops are trying to prevent the Bakhmut group from being surrounded. Other brigades are operating south of Bakhmut. Very fierce fighting continues in Klishchiivka and Andriivka. That is, the Russian enemy is trying to prevent the encirclement of Bakhmut and fire control over the supply and logistics of Bakhmut.

map Bakhmut

The serviceman added that the situation is no less difficult in the Kupyansk sector, where the 41st Hrim (Thunder) Brigade is currently operating. “There are battles there, the enemy is trying to reach Kupyansk-Vuzlovyi. The Russians are constantly trying to attack our positions.”

Map of fighting in Kupyansk sector

Sazonov noted that Ukrainian defenders are working very hard on defense. The BUAR, which is the artillery control battery, and the reconnaissance brigade are working very well on the enemy's logistics. That is, they do not allow replenishment to arrive, do not allow the supply of equipment and ammunition, destroying it on the way. Every day and every night the guys work, but the enemy has concentrated very powerful forces in the Kupyansk direction. It seems that the enemy has concentrated the largest number of aircraft here. The Kupyansk direction is very important for Russia.

Prospects for Ukraine's armament

And then we will talk about weapons and rearmament, about our plans, intentions and capabilities. At the beginning, I mentioned that the President of Ukraine is in the United States and has met with representatives of several powerful American defense companies. Before that, Ukraine asked the United States to provide a much wider list of weapons, including new types of military transport aircraft, missile defense systems, helicopters, and more. The question arises: does all of this together constitute a window of opportunity that Ukraine can take advantage of? This is what we will ask Oleksandr Los, former President of Antonov, Doctor of Technical Sciences, and Captain of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

The former president of Antonov commented that Ukraine is in a state where there is no time to choose what the future look of the Ukrainian Air Force should be. It's a situation where you have to take what you can take. The F-18 issue has been discussed in the circles of the Ukrainian Air Force since 2017, so it is not new. Indeed, F-18 aircraft are comparable in combat capabilities to the F-16. Currently, F-18s of the first generation, from version A to C, are available in Australia, some have been purchased by Canada, some are in Spain, and these aircraft are also in service in Finland. Therefore, this is a fairly large number of aircraft that can be brought into the Ukrainian Air Force. The F-18 is primarily a deck-based aircraft for the US Marine Corps and Navy, so this aircraft was originally designed to land on aircraft carriers, and has specific aerodynamics that provide it with ultra-high angles of attack.

Oleksandr Los noted that the T-7 training aircraft used by the US Air Force was essentially copied by Boeing-Saab in terms of aerodynamic layout from the F-18. That is, the T-7 is a smaller single-engine copy of the F-18. The T-7 and F-7 are the future mass-produced aircraft. And we need to join the T-7 program. It is also imperative to involve Ukraine in the most advanced air superiority aircraft, the F-15, as it is the replacement for the Su-27 and a competitor to the Su-35, which is currently attacking Ukraine on a massive scale.

The doctor of technical sciences added that a modern fighter jet is not only about wings but first and foremost about engines. And when we talk about some national projects, for example, South Korea, Turkey, India, they are all based on General Electric or Pratt & Whitney engines. The same F-18, T-7, Turkish HÜRJET, South Korean FA-50 are powered by the JF404 engine. Everyone has to apply to the United States for permission to use these engines in national or American fighter jets. Therefore, military-technical cooperation with the United States, especially in the aviation industry, is still necessary.

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