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
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
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.
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