The general estimates that Ukraine retains 80 percent of its air force seven months after the end of the war.
Ukrainian air defenses have shot down at least 55 Russian warplanes since the war began in late February, a US general said on Monday, citing heavy losses as the main reason why Russian fighter and bomber aircraft did not play a significant role. In conflict.
The Ukrainians used old Russian air defenses to shoot down these planes, forcing the Russians to strictly control aircraft flying close to Ukrainian positions. The kills left Russian ground forces without any air support, Gen. James Hecker, commander of Air Force Europe and Africa, told reporters at the Air Force Association’s annual conference.
This lack of air defense was one of the biggest surprises of the war, as most analysts expected Russia to quickly dominate Ukraine’s airspace in the early days of the invasion. This defeat allowed the Ukrainian Air Force to regroup and survive largely intact. Hecker estimates that Ukraine has 80% of its air force seven months into the war.
At a Ukrainian Defense Liaison Committee meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany this month, one of the “big orders” from the Ukrainians was SA-10 (S-300) and SA-11 (Buk) air defense systems. ) excluding Russian drones and aircraft, Hecker said.
The US neither manufactures nor deploys the missiles, so European allies are responsible for delivering them to Kiev.
One thing unlikely to come to Ukraine anytime soon, Hecker said, is that the US-made F-16 fighter jets won’t arrive until after the political decision to send them for two or three years because of training and logistical issues. The general wouldn’t count on sending the F-16s, though, he said, adding that “people are starting to think long-term” about how to equip Ukraine for a war that could last years, not months. POLITICO reported last week that officials are in early discussions to send jets to Ukraine with Patriot missile batteries.
But aid depends on decisions by politicians in Washington and European capitals, delaying some weapons that Ukrainians have insisted for months are critical to their survival. Pressure is mounting on Germany, in particular, to allow third countries to send German-made Panther tanks and artillery systems to Ukraine, something Berlin has so far refused to do.
There is a similar fear within the White House of refusing to send long-range missiles to high-mobility rocket artillery systems for fear that Ukraine will begin striking targets inside Russia. Current missiles can travel about 50 miles, as opposed to the 180-mile range Ukraine is asking for.
These self-imposed restrictions on aid have frustrated Kiev and others who want to quickly and fully equip Ukraine to attack Russian forces. For now, at least, “Ukraine has what it takes to survive, fight and try to protect its sovereign country from turning into World War III,” Hecker said.
The general acknowledged that the US was providing Ukraine with “time-sensitive” intelligence, but insisted the Americans were not targeting them.
Specifically, the U.S. passed on information about the location of Russian supply depots and logistics centers inside Ukraine, Hecker said. “We’ll go where some of this equipment is, and then it’s up to them whether they want to get involved or not,” he said.
In the early days of the war, Ukrainian forces found it difficult to attack these targets, which were behind the front lines and out of range of their artillery. “But then they got Himars,” he said.
Author’s note: According to Oryx (@oryxspioenkop), 56 Russian fixed-wing aircraft have been shot down by Ukraine so far:
- 22 Su-25
- 1 Su-24 MR
- 6 Su-24M
- 11 Su-30 SM
- 1 Su-35S
- 12 Su-34
- 1 Su-34M
- 1 SU unknown
- 1 An-26
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