Espreso. Global

Russia bolsters arsenal for striking Ukrainian targets. Serhiy Zgurets's column

12 April, 2024 Friday

During the massive attack on April 11, Russia likely used a Kh-69 missile, a modernized version of the Kh-59. The Ukrainian air defense forces have a new challenge. The issue of more Patriot air defense systems is really urgent


Russia's massive strike on April 11

On the night of April 11, Russia launched a massive combined strike against Ukraine. A total of 82 air- and ground-launched missiles, as well as Shahed-type attack drones, were used. 

Air defense forces shot down 16 of the 20 cruise missiles. Out of 40 Shahed-131/136 UAVs, 39 were shot down. Also, as a result of the air battle, the Ukrainian side destroyed 2 Kh-59 guided missiles. Russia fired 6 Kh-47M2 Kinzhal aerial ballistic missiles and 12 S-300 anti-aircraft guided missiles. These missiles cannot be shot down by the air defense forces, given the limited means that can combat these ballistic missiles. 

Loss of Trypilska TPP

Russia’s main targets in Ukraine were critical infrastructure facilities. In particular, these are power facilities in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv and Kyiv regions. Centrenergo reported that the Russian strike had completely destroyed the Trypilska thermal power plant in Kyiv region. The hits caused a fire in the turbine shop. 

Recently, new details have emerged about what exactly Russia used to strike this important energy facility. Judging by the debris near and at the plant, it used a Kh-69 cruise missile. This is according to our sources. There is no official information on this yet, but the sources are reliable. Russian troops used an Kh-69 missile in the Kyiv region in early February this year. The Kyiv Institute of Forensic Sciences conducted an investigation and analyzed this missile in detail. It is a kind of version of the Kh-59 missile.

Earlier we estimated that the range of this missile, which is launched from Su-34 fighters and Su-35 bombers, is approximately 290-300 km. There is a suspicion that this missile was launched from the line of contact, by the same Russian fighters. But the distance to the Trypilska thermal power plant is about 400 kilometers. In fact, this is a subsonic cruise missile that was launched from Russian aircraft. This suggests that Russia has increased its arsenal of means of striking Ukrainian targets. It's not just about the Kh-101 missiles that were shot down by air defense. Now we have to deal with Kh-69 missiles. The Air Force report says that two Kh-59 missiles were shot down, but extreme information suggests that Russia also used the Kh-69 missile, a modernized version of the Kh-59. That is why the issue of more Patriot SAMs in the Ukrainian Armed Forces is really urgent today.

The newest tank with the "Tsar-EW" and Russia's losses in equipment

Yaroslav Filimonov, CEO and co-owner of Kvertus, says that the skills of Ukrainian specialists working with drones are growing. They are learning how to hit Russian equipment and personnel, even despite the effects of electronic warfare. This is evidenced by the "Tsar-EW" (A reference to the Tsar Cannon - the world's largest cannon, it was made of bronze in the 16th century, but it was never used in a war - ed.) mounted on a Russian tank. Russian forces realize that their means do not work and are trying to load everything they can onto the tanks to make it work. Russia also sees that initiative in electronic warfare is a very important thing. Therefore, they are looking for ways, options, and combinations of different means to protect their equipment. After all, the losses of Russian equipment are probably four times higher than the losses of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. According to Mr. Filimonov, such pile-ups are another experiment that Russia is using to find an effective solution that would protect them from Ukrainian drones. But most likely they will not succeed.

Ukrainian electronic warfare equipment

Kvertus develops a whole line of electronic warfare equipment, from trench to dome. According to the company's co-owner, the most in-demand segment among customers presently targets the FPV kamikaze drones, which pose a significant threat to Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines. These drones have witnessed a surge in popularity since last year, driven by their effectiveness in combat scenarios. Russia possesses numerous models of FPV drones and deploys them extensively, often without restraint. According to him, the Russians are using them to hit equipment and personnel, trying to hit at least one person. Therefore, the protection of soldiers, especially on the battlefield, is very important now. 

Filimonov noted that Russia is targeting not only soldiers, personnel and armored vehicles but also equipment that builds fortifications. It also targets civilian infrastructure. That is why the team's main task today is to protect any positions, equipment, trenches, field hospitals, etc. from FPV kamikaze drones. 

Perhaps 80% of the products the company ships are purchased either by the state or by military units that are allocated funds for this purpose. By the state, Filimonov means all existing power structures, including the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Charitable foundations, volunteers and businesses also account for 20%. Therefore, as we can see, the state is now significantly involved in providing the military with electronic warfare and intelligence.

The threat posed by Russian Lancet drones

The co-owner of the Kvertus company says that physical destruction is still the most effective way to counter the Lancets. It is very difficult to suppress a Lancet with electronic interference. But the company is working on this solution, looking for options, testing different ways to suppress it. That is, no one is forgetting about it, says Filimonov. However, according to him, FPV kamikaze drones today cause much more damage than Lancets. Since FPV drones are cheaper, there are many more of them.

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