MT-LB is bizarre. They are welded on the ceiling of

the rear part of the hull including the whole ship

barbette, instead of cutting the opening in the

hull and putting the barbette inside. This doubled

the vehicle’s height. Originally these turrets were

designed for the AA warfare, but they cannot meet

the current requirements. They only feature manual

aiming which is sufficient for the slow flying targets.

It is supposed then that these vehicles are assigned

to ground warfare, to provide supporting fire for the

infantry. Due to their height, however, they present

an easy target for the opponent.

Drone attacks

In addition to their effort to break through the

Ukrainian defense on the front line the Russians

continued with shelling of the civilian infrastructure

in the Ukrainian cities. During the large-scale attack

on February 10, they launched 71 cruising missiles

out of which 61 were shot down by the Ukrainian AA

fire. 20 Shahed-136 drones were destroyed as well.

However, the rockets that penetrated the defense

hit and damaged four power stations. In addition

to the missiles and drones the Russians started to

launch the balloons. They carry the radar reflectors

which deflect the radar microwaves back to its

antenna. This causes a strong disturbance on the

radar screen. The goal is to disable the Ukrainian

AA defense. Not only the Ukrainians waste the

precious rockets on the useless balloon, but the

chances are that the actual missiles will break

through as the anti-weapon will be confused by

multiple targets. The Ukrainians also retaliated by

the drone attacks. During February 27 and 28 the

whole series of incidents took place deep in the

Russian territory. Ukrainians do not officially claim

them but the whole situation looks like testing the

capabilities of the variety of UAVs before the largescale attack. There were different types of drones

used on different targets. The Russians official

statement is that all these drones were shot down

and no damages were sustained which is not quite

true in the case of Tuapse on the Black Sea coast.

On Tuesday, February 28 the Rosneft oil refinery

was damaged by the drone explosion. A smaller fire

broke out. The Russians were lucky as the explosion

and fire took place away of the main oil tanks.

At the same time the attack of at least 15 drones

was launched on the targets in Crimea, at least two

hit Belgorod in the Russian territory. The old Tu-141

Strizh jet reconnaissance drone, full of explosives,

crashed in the Krasnodar southern outskirts. One

drone crashed right next to the gas compressor

station in Kolomen area which is only 100 km

Satellite shot of Maxar after the attack. Damage to the hump on the fuselage

and the antenna dish are discernible.

south of Moscow! No surprise the the Russians

started to build the AA defense around Moscow

and even the Pancir AA systems appeared on the

roofs of several houses in the Russian capital.

However, the most daring attack against the

Russian targets took place at the end of February

in Belarus. On February 26, at the Machulishchy

base near Minsk two explosions damaged Beriev

A-50U AWACS aircraft. The Russian AF has been

operating out of this base since the beginning of

war and besides A-50U Mig-31s are flown out of

there. The attack was supposedly conducted by

the Belorussian resistance who consequently

fled the country. According to their claims they

damaged the radome and the hump containing the

satellite communication located behind the pilot’s

cockpit. They used two commercial drones each

carrying 200 grams of explosives. At least the

hump damaged behind the cockpit was recorded

on video and later confirmed by satellite images.

Destroying the electronics effectively disabled

A-50U from performing its missions even though

the flight capabilities were not impaired by such

small charges. A couple of days later the aircraft

was flown in for repairs. The question is how fast

the Russians can fix it. Only seven A-50U were built

in 10 years, between 2011 and 2021.

A satellite image of an A-50U at Belarus’ Machulishchy airport was taken

by Planet Labs PBC shortly before the attack.

Russian Defense Ministry photo of an A-50U before the drone attack.

A drone also crashed near Kolomna, just 100 km

from Moscow, on February 28.

April 2023

Footage of the attacking drone. It landed on a hump with antennas

on the back of the aircraft and exploded there.

INFO Eduard