Espreso. Global

Russian troops to become 'blind and deaf' due to radar aircraft issues

23 November, 2023 Thursday

In the regular reports of Ukraine's General Staff, the section on the aviation of the Russian occupation forces always attracts attention. Naturally, fighters and strategic bombers are on everyone's minds. But surveillance aircraft also matter, without them the occupation forces are blind and deaf

Oleksandr Kovalenko, Ukrainian military and political observer of the Information Resistance group, writes about this, according to Obozrevatel.

Recently, the UK Ministry of Defense issued a report stating that the Russians were forced to decommission the Soviet high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft M-55 Myasishchev.

Why did Russia take such a step, and what is the potential of their aviation reconnaissance component? 

Removed from decommissioning

In Soviet times, the Myasishchev M-55 could be used for additional targeting of the OTR-23 Oka with a range of up to 400 km. Nowadays, the aircraft is equipped with the UKR-RT radio intelligence equipment, which allows for reconnaissance and detection of air defense assets to a depth of 200-300 km.

“At first glance, it sounds good, but if we consider it as a full-fledged deep reconnaissance, it is not. After all, with such indicators, the Myasishchev M-55, while in Russian airspace, will not be able to conduct effective reconnaissance deep into the territory of Ukraine, and in the temporarily occupied territories will be forced to be based either at one of the airfields in the occupied part of Ukraine or near the Ukrainian-Russian border,” the report states.

All of this points to the imperfection of the Russian intelligence component, which they are trying to solve by using morally and technically outdated means.

Is Russian surveillance aviation really that bad?

Again, British intelligence reports that Russian A-50 reconnaissance aircraft are now being integrated with S-400 Triumf air defense systems to increase the effectiveness of anti-aircraft missile systems in the fight against F16 fighters. And this is very interesting.

The matter is that according to the official tactical and technical characteristics of the Triumfs, the range of target destruction reaches 400 km, while the range of target detection and tracking by the 91N6E radar is 600 km! At the same time, the maximum range of the F16 with the most modern air-to-air missiles AIM-120D (which we are unlikely to get) is 180 km, and with air-to-surface cruise missiles AGM-158A JASSM - 370 km.

In other words, in both cases, the S-400 Triumf is supposed to cope with such threats, but it turns out that it does not. It turns out that without the support of the A-50, the S-400 Triumf is not effective at the maximum distances stated in its specifications. Congratulations to China, Turkey, and India for purchasing a very expensive and very defective piece of scrap. Just the deal of the century!

Back to the A-50

Russia has 9 A-50 aircraft in service, one of which is still being repaired after the Shmel radio system was damaged in Belarus (as a result of a drone strike). There is also information about the inoperability of several more A-50s due to repairs and modernization. This is forcing the Russians to bring their reconnaissance aircraft into service.

It is noted that they are used to monitor the air situation and control tactical aviation from Krymsk (350 km from the nearest positions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces) and Akhtubinsk (650 km) airfields, taking turns in the airspace over the Sea of Azov. Periodically, two or three A-50 aircraft are observed taking turns.


It is rarely mentioned, but complex reconnaissance aircraft regularly fly near the border with Ukraine, performing radio reconnaissance and radio interception functions. The depth of reconnaissance does not exceed 200 km.

These aircraft are primarily used to maintain communication stability. To accomplish these tasks, they are mainly in the airspace of the Rostov region, temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions, and over the Sea of Azov.

They base and take off from the Armavir (500 km), Akhtubinsk and Marinovka airfields.


The author believes that today Russia does not have sufficient aerial reconnaissance assets to provide its troops with 24/7 support. Its capabilities are limited, and any damage or destruction of these aircraft will have a critical impact on the command and control system and coordination of troops.

In the future, the S-400 air defense systems will also depend on the A-50, which, as we can see, are not as perfect as stated in their specifications.

At the same time, in an effort to avoid dangerous proximity to Ukraine's airspace and given the limited range of some Russian reconnaissance aircraft, they are forced to keep them at airfields that are within range of a number of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Meanwhile, the creation of new models of such aircraft is an impossibly difficult technical and technological problem, which is why the Russians are strengthening this component by decommissioning old Soviet models of limited functionality.

Everything goes to the conclusion that at some point Ukraine may have a chance to completely blind and deafen the Russian group of occupation forces. There are conditions for this, and they are created in a certain sense by the Russian air forces themselves with the imperfection of their aviation. The question of capabilities remains open.

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