The Russian Aerospace Forces had a horrible day on March 5th, most certainly. In around 26 hours, ten Russian Aerospace Forces fighter planes and helicopters were shot down over Ukraine, according to different reports.
The Russian Air Force has yet to launch large-scale operations in Ukraine, despite the fact that the invasion has been underway for more than a week. The lack of activity in the first few days could be attributed to a variety of circumstances, but the ongoing absence of large aviation operations, as well as Ukraine’s repeated shut-downs of Russian aircraft, raise serious capabilities concerns.
Russian Aerospace Forces lost one Su-30SM fighter, two Su-34 tactical bombers, two Su-25 attack aircraft, two Mi-24/Mi-35 and two Mi-8 helicopters, and one Orlan-10 small UAV on March 5th, according to Ukrainian media.
The news that “the Russian ace pilot flying the Su-34 bomber was shot down” is undoubtedly the most dramatic. The reference No.24 Su-34 bomber was shot down near the eastern Ukrainian city of Vrnovaka, according to the “Kyiv Independent,” and the pilot was seized by the Ukrainian army. He also took part in combat actions in Syria, according to photos that emerged on social media.
Unlike Ukraine’s previous propaganda, many of the reports about a Russian military plane being shot down this time are accompanied by relevant videos or photos, such as the process video of the downing of the Su-30SM and Mi-24, as well as photos of Su-34, Su-25, Orlan-10, Mi-24, and other military aircraft wreckage, etc., ensuring a much higher level of credibility.
Of course, the data published on social media isn’t always correct. However, it’s likely that it’s the result of merging the Ukrainian army’s results across a few days, but in any case, the likelihood that “Russian Aerospace Forces incurred heavy casualties in Ukraine” is accurate.
Then there’s the question of who was responsible for the Russian Aerospace Forces’ significant losses. According to the Russian military report, the Ukrainian Air Force still has some combat capability. The Russian military shot down four Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jets on March 5, according to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. Two Buk air defence systems are also present.
Then there’s the issue of who was to blame for the Russian Aerospace Forces’ heavy losses. The Ukrainian Air Force, according to a Russian military report, still has some combat capability. According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, the Russian military shot down four Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jets on March 5. According to sources, Ukraine’s skies are still protected by two Buk air defence systems.
However, footage circulating on social media suggest that the loss of Russian fighters on the 5th may have been caused by portable air defence missiles such as “Stinger” or “Needle,” rather than Ukrainian Air Force jets or air defence systems like “Buk.”
It may seem incredible, but a big number of high-value advanced fighters were likely destroyed by ground individual missiles.
All of the footage and photographs of the downed Russian fighter jets have one thing in common: they fly at an extremely low altitude, just in the strike range of man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, whether they are fixed-wing fighter jets or helicopters. One of the Mi-24s that was attacked. The helicopter is just ten metres over the ground, providing an excellent opportunity for the Ukrainian army’s individual soldiers. Many films also show that the Russian fighter plane was attacked by ground-based portable air defence missiles, either directly or indirectly.
Why are Russian fighter aeroplanes and helicopters losing so many planes despite the fact that they are equipped with infrared jamming pods or directed infrared jamming systems? In previous wars, 80 percent of pilots shot down by ground-based portable air defence missiles had no idea they were being attacked. They were, simply put, the victims of a surprise attack.
Even yet, because man-portable air defence missiles have a low hit rate, it is frequently required to coordinate many shooters to ambush simultaneously in order to increase the attack success rate. The disadvantage of this strategy is that it will require a large quantity of missiles.
The US “Wall Street Journal” recently reported that Ukraine’s envoy to the US had asked the US to expedite the delivery of “Stinger” missiles. “The Ukrainian army’s existing missiles are going to run out.” It demonstrates that the Ukrainian army may be employing this approach to intercept Russian fighter jets.
On social media, a video of a rocket shooting down a Mi-24 helicopter went viral. The Mi-24 helicopter is depicted in red, while the launched portable air defence missile, most likely the FIM-92 Stinger, is depicted in blue.
It’s worth noting that the massive video outpouring of the Russian helicopter being shot down this time is particularly “abnormal.” Because no one has time to videotape the full ambush process near the ambush location. There is some information on Twitter suggesting this film is a hoax, but there is no solid evidence to back up this assertion.
Furthermore, despite the fact that portable air defence missiles are simple to use, they nevertheless necessitate a period of professional training before they can be used freely. Previously, the Ukrainian army utilised “Stinger” and “Needle” and other portable air defence missiles extensively, although with mixed results. Many experts believe there are multiple indicators that this wave of ambushes on Russian fighter jets will be directed by well-trained “Western volunteers.” The first wave of 16,000 “volunteers” is set to arrive in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
On the other side, the Russian Aerospace Forces’ severe casualties are inextricably linked to their own tactical flaws. On the Ukrainian battlefield, Russian fighter jets are increasingly employing unguided weapons, colloquially referred to as “iron bombs.” They must reduce their altitude to strike more accurately in order to offer the hit rate, which gives the Ukrainian army’s ground weapons an opportunity.
What is the reason for the lack of precision ammunition in the Russian Aerospace Forces? On the one hand, it could be due to the Russian army’s lack of relevant reserves. After all, in high-intensity warfare, ammunition is consumed at a breakneck pace, and the US regularly launches hundreds of precision-guided bombs and missiles. The strategies are a little too costly.
Furthermore, given that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has only been raging for less than two weeks and there is no sign of it abating, the Russian army must set aside a certain amount of precision-guided weapons for emergencies for the time being, exacerbating the Russian military’s precision-guided weapons shortages.
Furthermore, man-portable anti-aircraft missiles are only equipped with basic support equipment and lack night-fighting capabilities. However, not only in this Russian-Ukrainian conflict, but also when Russia joined in the Syrian civil war in the past, the Russian Aerospace Force’s attacks were mostly concentrated during the day. Night attacks are also uncommon in the Air Force.
The cause of this phenomena is most likely tied to Russian fighter jets’ night vision equipment, such as optoelectronic pods, and a lack of specialised training – after all, both equipment and training are expensive…
In any event, it’s tough to call the Russian Aerospace Forces’ performance in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict this time “unsatisfactory.” The Russian military’s numerous lessons will have a considerable impact on global air force and air defence operations.