Espreso. Global

Russia modernizes cruise missiles, intensifies air warfare - Kyiv Security Forum

12 January, 2024 Friday

The air war escalated dramatically during the Christmas and New Year period. The question arose of Ukraine's faster transition to a new strategy, as well as overcoming the disparity with Russia in the air

This was discussed at the Kyiv Security Forum.

At the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, Russia launched massive strikes across Ukraine. In addition to the number of air assets (on 12/29/23, it was the largest in the entire war), we note the combination of strikes with various weapons and the massive use of ballistic missiles.

This is the most important thing in Russian tactics:

● Depletion of Ukrainian air defense due to the accelerated consumption of anti-aircraft missiles. The most harmful are attacks by high-speed Russian missiles (Kinzhal; Iskander-M; S-300/400 and Kh-22), as Ukraine can spend 3 or more anti-missiles on each of them. There have been simultaneous launches of 5 or even 10 Kinzhals.

● "Stunning" Ukraine's air defense in order to exhaust and physically destroy it. What went unnoticed was the fact that during each massive attack in recent weeks, Russia also launched several Kh-31P missiles. This is a special weapon to destroy radar-based air defense systems (from tactical Gerards to Patriots), which is difficult to shoot down due to its supersonic speed. It is not yet known whether these launches were effective.

● Quite a few high-speed missiles have been launched at targets outside Kyiv. This is a problem because modern missile defense systems are focused on protecting the capital. And in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kryvyi Rih, and Dnipro, the flight time of these enemy missiles is also critically short (2-5 minutes): Ukrainian air defense would not have time to react even with a sufficient number of missile launchers. In addition, these areas are also attacked by slow-moving Shaheds.

● The effectiveness of Russian strikes is ambiguous. Open sources have revealed a dozen cases where Russian missiles exploded on the ground in residential and undeveloped areas, causing damage disproportionate to the value of the missile. This can be explained by either a missed missile or a successful interception, or by deliberate terror against the population. Whatever the case, the main consequence of the Russian attacks was not the destruction of specific targets, but the depletion of Ukrainian air defense.

Another trend is the acceleration of the modernization of Russian air weapons. We are talking about long-range missiles and drones, as well as enemy tactical assets:

● Many Kinzhals and a still unknown type of ballistic missile (probably North Korean) were used.

● The Kh-101 cruise missiles now have an air defense jamming system and probably a new navigation system.

● A rocket-propelled variant of the Shaheds has been reported.

● Lancets and FPV drones allegedly already use elements of artificial intelligence.

Ukraine's military and defense industry have to adapt to these new threats at a faster pace.

In turn, Ukraine has launched a series of air counterattacks:

For the first time since summer, massive drone strikes (more than 30 UAVs in a wave) on targets in Russia and occupied Crimea.

● Attacks by Soviet and Ukrainian MLRS missiles on military facilities in the Belgorod region.

● Successful targeted strikes on Crimea and the occupied Donetsk region by Western cruise missiles.

On the one hand, it is worth noting that the transfer of the war to Russia's territory should be a key element of Ukraine's new military strategy. This, by the way, is often said by Western experts. Such a transfer is impossible without massive air strikes and aerospace reconnaissance.

On the other hand, Ukraine needs to significantly increase production of its own air and anti-aircraft weapons: strike and anti-aircraft missiles, drones of all kinds, radar and electronic warfare equipment. This is necessary both to hit targets on Russian territory and to compensate for delays in the provision of Western weapons.

By the way, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force recently reiterated that it is impossible to shoot down all the S-300 missiles that the Russians are launching at Kharkiv, but instead it is necessary to destroy the corresponding launchers on the enemy's territory (where it is still forbidden to hit with Western missiles).

Therefore, massive strikes on military targets in Russia should not be a forced pompous "response" to the shelling of Ukrainian cities, but a regular proactive tactic of Ukraine. Accordingly, the government and the defense industry should develop a sufficient and increasingly modern arsenal of weapons for such strikes.

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