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.
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.
Footage of the attacking drone. It landed on a hump with antennas
on the back of the aircraft and exploded there.