Russia’s Air Force, The Second-largest In The World, Hasn’t Been Seen Over Ukraine

Kremlin moves keep the U.S. and military watchers in the dark about what it is going to do next. It’s not clear why Russia hasn’t used its powerful air force to rule over Ukraine’s skies.

Russia’s Air Force is the second-largest in the world, and it outmatches Ukraine in every way. A strategic intelligence research service called Janes says the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) has 132 bombers and none for Ukraine, 832 fighter jets, and 358 transport planes. This compares to 86 for Ukraine and 63 for Kyiv, according to the report. It looks like Russia has more weapons than Ukraine does. Except for drones, which Ukraine has 66 of, and Russia has 25.

But, the Russian Aerospace Forces are notorious for not being there in the early stages of military action, which isn’t what the U.S. intelligence predicted.

An official from the U.S. Department of Defense told Reuters that “they’re not always willing to take high risks with their own planes and pilots.” These are the times when Ukraine’s air force is still in the sky and its air defenses are thought to be safe. Analysts thought that the Russian Air Force would stop Ukraine’s air force and air defenses.

There are a lot of ways to look at this. According to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a London-based think tank, the most important one is that most VKS fighter units don’t have enough air-delivered precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to use.

It said that only the Su-34 fleet has used PGMs on a regular basis, and even these special strike aircraft have had to use unguided bomb or rocket attacks from time to time. The article was called “The Mysterious Case of the Russian Air Force.”

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The report, written by Justin Bronk, says that running joint engagement zones where combat planes and SAM systems can fight the enemy at the same time in a complicated environment is hard.

“It requires close inter-service cooperation, excellent communications, and regular training to master. So far, Russian forces have shown extremely poor coordination across the board, from basic logistics tasks to coordination of airborne assaults with ground forces activity and arranging air defense cover for columns on the move,” Bronk added.

Other ideas circulating include Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war strategy, which was based on the premise that Ukrainian defenses would quickly crumble, allowing Russian forces to conquer Kyiv and destroy Ukrainian forces in the east and south without requiring air superiority.

“The lacking efficacy of the Russian air force is one of the surprising elements of this conflict,” former French army colonel Michel Goya was quoted by news outlets. He believes the Russian air force is still a far cry from “the precision, the flexibility and the inter-operability of Western air forces.”


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