Espreso. Global

Ukrainian successes impact Russian air defense systems

8 November, 2023 Wednesday
12:12

Ukraine's recent military actions have struck a severe blow to Russia's air defense systems. Losses include both long and short-range systems, and their absence might affect the military balance

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Ukrainian Journalist Oleksandr Kovalenko writes about it in an article for Obozrevatel. 

The British Ministry of Defense emphasized that the loss of long-range air defense systems, such as the S-400 and S-300, in Ukraine has forced Russian troops to relocate these systems from strategic locations. 

This not only weakens their air defense in Ukraine but also potentially leaves other areas vulnerable, according to the article. 

The impact of Ukrainian strikes

Recent reports confirm the destruction of key Russian air defense systems.

Notably, three S-400 systems were taken out in Luhansk. This is a significant blow as the S-400 is one of the most effective long-range air defense systems in Russia's arsenal. 

Furthermore, there have been reports of losses of Russian air defense systems in the temporarily occupied Crimea, and on November 3, there was documentary confirmation of the destruction of the Russian KP 5Н63С complex of the S-300PS in the Zaporizhzhia region.

While long-range defenses like the S-400 and S-300 get much of the attention, short and medium-range systems are equally crucial. These systems are responsible for intercepting not only large aerial threats like aircraft and missiles but also smaller, more agile targets like drones. “But as we can see, they have not been very effective lately. I wonder why?” Kovalenko writes. 

Russian air defense losses

Over 566 Russian air defense systems have been destroyed or damaged since Ukraine's offensive began, according to the article. 

Notably, the short-range Tor-M1/2 system has suffered, with over 60 unconfirmed losses, and 41 confirmed. The Pantsir-S1 system, a vital part of Russia's air defense network, has seen verified losses of 20 units, with more than 40 unverified losses. Buk, Osa, and Strela systems also suffered a significant number of losses.

Air defense shortage

Kovalenko writes that even the USSR struggled to fully protect its vast territories with air defense. Russia, which focused on the western part of the country, now requires relocating systems, both within Ukraine and Russia, stretching its resources thin. 

For example, to defend southern Ukraine, up to a hundred Buk-M1/2/3 launchers are needed. At the invasion's outset, Russia had around 400 such systems. Over 70 have been destroyed, leaving little for Russia's defense or supply in case of losses.

This pattern extends to various air defense models, including missile defense systems. Russia's air defense deficit undermines its overall defense posture and forces it to expose more borders.

Consequences

Russia continues to bolster air defense in the combat zone but struggles to maintain a reliable system. Ukraine's targeting of Russian air defense systems is proving to be strategically effective, destabilizing the balance of power and making the situation more fragile than before.

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