Air war over Ukraine

First three weeks


Kamov Ka-52 shot down on the first day of the war during an attack on Hostomel airfield.

On Thursday, February 24, 2022 the world woke up into a nightmare. At 5 am, Eastern European time, a war, not witnessed since

1945, erupted. The first shots were fired by the air force when

the whole Ukrainian territory was targeted by the air and missile

attacks. We will focus on this air combat in the following text.

Until the deadline of this INFO Eduard issue

we managed to cover the events from the

moment the attack was launched until

Wednesday, March 16, which is exactly 21

days. If you, in the text, come across the

words “until now” or “until today” it corresponds to the March 16 date. It also needs

to be stressed out from the very beginning

that the information verification at the time

of an ongoing war is rather complicated, to

say the least. In the case of ground combat

a lot of photographs and video records are

available which can confirm or dismiss the

claims of either warring side. In the case

of air combat, it’s even more difficult. If the

long range missile hit was claimed and the

shot down airplane crashed on the enemy’s

territory the kill is practically impossible to

confirm by the photograph - unless done by

the adversary. This is rather improbable as

far as Russia is concerned. The official Russian sources keep rather tight lips about

enemy casualties not speaking about their

own. And Ukrainians, in order to boost morale, mostly report the Russian losses and

very rarely their own.


INFO Eduard

According to the latest official information,

published on March 13, Russian forces destroyed 99 Ukrainian aircraft. The number

obviously includes decommissioned aircraft destroyed on the ground about which

we will talk later. Nevertheless, the photographs, videos and other sources confirm only 9 Ukrainian aircraft, four drones

and one helicopter destroyed. The ratio of

claims to confirmed kills is therefore 99:14.

As of March 16, Ukrainians reported 84 Russian aircraft, 11 drones and 108 helicopters

destroyed. Other sources confirm 15 Russian aircraft, 8 drones and 32 helicopters lost

which represents the ratio 203:55. It’s obvious that neither number is accurate. Since

the beginning of mankind each warring side

exaggerated its successes to boost their

troops’ morale. On the other hand we cannot expect to document each and every loss

therefore the actual losses are higher than

those photographically documented. So far

only the aforementioned numbers are available.

The struggle for air superiority

The first days of the Russian invasion

were dedicated to air superiority. Despite

Moscow’s significant air supremacy and

bold claim to have destroyed the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses it turned out to be

just another Kremlin’s propaganda. During

the first days of the conflict the Russian

missiles did hit almost all major Ukrainian military airports, including the bases

at Luck and Ivano-Frankivsk in the west

of the country. The large radar bases were

destroyed as well. At the local and regional

level however the batteries of the anti-aircraft missiles and medium range radars

remained largely intact which was, in the

coming days, very much felt by the Russian

airmen. On the very first day of the attack

Russians claimed to have shot down four

Ukrainian airplanes, four drones and one

helicopter. Only one Su-27 is confirmed

destroyed on the ground, one Mig-29 shot

down in the air and one practically defenseless transport aircraft An-26 shot down in

the Kiev area with five crew members lost.

Report of four drones destroyed is remarkable. They were supposed to be the

Bayraktar TB2 crafts Ukraine bought from

Turkey. They were ordered in 2019 and the

number of them gradually increased to

more than 60. It remains unclear how many

of them Ukraine received but the last batch

arrived shortly before the outbreak of the

war and reportedly even afterwards. The-

April 2022