The air war

over Ukraine

The third month


A satellite image of Snake Island courtesy of Maxar company.

At the time of this article, it has already been 80 days since the outbreak of war in Ukraine. The last month can hardly be described by

paraphrasing the classic quotation “All quiet on the Eastern Front''.

On the contrary, there is an intense fighting going on in Ukraine with

many unexpected twists and turns. We came to see some surprises in

the air warfare as well.

One of the major surprises in the conflict are

the Ukrainian, Turkish made drones Bayraktar TB2 and their efficiency and versatility. A month ago, Russians claimed to have

shot down 50 of them which is more than

Ukrainian inventory. At that time only three

Bayraktars were photographically confirmed

destroyed. In a month, from April 16 to May 16

another four confirmed losses of these drones were claimed but in return they achieved

several important successes.

Bayraktar TB2 is a relatively small combat

unmanned air vehicle 6.5 meters long with 12

meters wingspan. On four hard points it can

carry four bombs or rockets with total weight

of 150 kg. If we consider bombing of the strategically important targets behind enemy’s

lines as a strategic bombing then these small

drones became strategic bombers during the

past month. The Russians have experienced

a series of fires and explosions at their strategic facilities. That many incidents cannot be

described as haphazard. However Ukraine


INFO Eduard

does not make any claims and Russian media mention them very sporadically. From

the pieces of information that are available

though it is obvious that some of the attacks

were executed by the Ukrainian rockets Tochka-U or by helicopters. The others could

have been done by groups of saboteurs since

they took place pretty far from the Ukrainian

border. And of course, carelessness could

have played a role as well.

On Monday April 25 Bayraktar drones joined

this campaign. On that day, at 2am local time

the Russian city of Bryansk was shaken by

a fuel storage explosion near Druzhba pipeline. 15 minutes later this was followed by

an explosion at a nearby base of the rocket

and artillery units. Bryansk is located more

than 110 km from the Ukrainian border and

it's an important transit point for the Russian

troops attacking Ukraine. The Druzhba pipeline is the main supply line of Russian oil to

Europe. Both targets were very important

for Ukraine. The Russian AA defense in the

Bryansk area shot down one drone carrying

S49T tail marking however only after it was

departing the area of the successful attack.

Two days later the ammunition storage near

the village of Staraya Nelidovka in Belgorod

area burnt down. The Russian AA defense

was more successful on that day and destroyed two Bayraktars - again only after they

released bombs on their targets. Pictures of

these two drones destroyed in the Kursk area

were immediately published on the Russian

social networks. The following day (April 25)

the Russians wanted to continue with their

success and published the images of another

shot down drone. In this case however the

Russian propaganda shot themselves in the

foot. They used the Bayraktar wreck which

was destroyed on April 2 already and they

only staged it at another location. They were

betrayed by exactly the same damages and

also some other sloppy details. For example,

the tail was supported by bricks - most likely

to hold it in the best angle for picture taking…

On Sunday May 1 another Bayraktar was

actually shot down in the Kursk area carrying S51T tail marking and this time it was destroyed together with its bombs still attached

under its wings. It is the seventh confirmed

Bayraktar kill. After this date the drones’

activity in the Russian border zone dropped.

The attention was shifted from the north to

the other side of Ukraine.

June 2022