Burning Russian helicopters at an airfield near Kherson on March 15.

Russian Su-25 that managed to land after being hit by a Stinger in the right engine.

Detail of the damage of the Su-25.

those days. On the night of February 25, during the sortie against the enemy aircraft

over Kiev, Col. Oleksandr Oksanchenko was

shot down.

His Su-27 fighter was hit by the Russian

S-400 missile system. During 2013-2018

Oksanchenko, nicknamed Gray Wolf, was

a Ukrainian AF Su-27 display pilot. In 2013

and 2016 he demonstrated his skills at SIAF

air shows at Sliac in Slovakia and for his

second show was awarded for the best

performance. In 2018 he was declared the

best pilot at the CIAF air show in Hradec

Kralove. He retired the same year. When the

Russian invasion commenced he volunteered for service and was consequently killed

while defending his homeland.

On Friday, February 25, the Ukrainians

launched the successful counter-attack.

At least symbolically they brought the fighting to the enemy’s territory when their

April 2022

ballistic missiles Tochka-U hit the military

airport Millerovo near Rostov on Don. The

city is located 16 kilometers from the Luhansk region border. Ukraine inherited Tochka-U missiles after the collapse of the

Soviet Union. Their range is 120 kilometers.

At least one Su-30 aircraft and several

buildings burnt down. Within 48 hours of

the beginning of the attack the Russians

claimed similar success. They published

the photographs of the airport where their

Kalibr missile launched from the ship destroyed at least six Ukrainian fighters Mig29. Older satellite images however showed

that this group of Migs had been parked

there for several years without movement.

Russians wasted their ammunition on decommissioned and unusable aircraft.

Civilian targets

In the following days the Russian activities

switched from the attacks on the airports

and radar bases to support of their attacking ground troops. Those however succeeded to advance in the southern Ukraine

only, got bogged down at Kiev and Kharkiv. There are several reasons for it-low

morale and unexpectedly fierce Ukrainian

resistance, enormous logistics problems

as well as communication problems when

the Russian soldiers are forced to use the

ordinary radios or even mobile phones and

their uncoded chat can be monitored without problems. The short blitzkrieg visioned by Russians got transformed into the

carpet shelling of the Ukrainian cities in an

effort to break the spirit of their population.

In comparison to this chaos the Russian

AF operates in a relatively organized way.

Sure, they too participate in the air attacks

against civilian targets including the hospitals, however, as stated by the expert on

contemporary military aviation, Tom Cooper, the majority of pilots don’t really know

what they are attacking. Before the mission

they receive the coordinates of the target

they are to attack without knowing what

exactly is located there. This is confirmed

by the notes found on the shot down pilots.

Therefore, the Russian command, both military and political leadership, is undeniably responsible for the campaign against

civilian targets which was also executed

in Chechnya and Syria. The higher ranking

pilots can represent an exception having

more accurate information but the ordinary pilots are only given the coordinates and

are possibly told by their commanders that

there is, for example, the headquarters or

the Ukrainian “neonazis”.

The Russian AF operations are controlled

by Beriev A-50 AWACS airplanes. There

are at least two airborne all the time, one

over Belarus and the second one in the east

near Rostov on Don.

They fly 70 to 100 kilometers from the Russian border, outside of the range of the

Ukrainian AA system S-300. A-50 aircraft

gather information from the reconnaissance aircraft, drones and ground observers.

Based on this data they determine potential

targets and assign priority to them. Then

two to three waves of Russian air attacks

follow on a daily basis.

It seems that Russian pilots don’t rush into

the attacks. There are several specific reasons for it. Poor communication of the

ground units creates fear of friendly fire.

There were suspiciously many cases where

the shot down Russian pilot ejected but his

parachute did not open. That certainly doesn’t contribute to other pilots’ confidence.

Despite the official reports the Ukrainian

AA defense in various areas is still pretty

INFO Eduard