Letecká vojna nad Ukrajinou

Another calm before the storm

Text: Miro Barič

A group of Mi-17s supplied to Ukraine by the US and originally intended for Afghanistan. Various markings can be seen, including on the lower fuselage and on the tail gates.

The period from April 1 to May 1 can be described as the calm before

the storm. Sure, the fierce fighting for Bakhmut continued, as well

as at some other places, however, the front line was practically

stagnant. Also, the preparations for the Ukrainian counterattack

were on the way in the form of attacks on the important targets in

the Russian rear. Similar situation occurred last summer before the

liberation of the Kharkiv area and Kherson.

Bakhmut did not fall. That’s the summary of the

fighting during the month of April. Sadly, a lot

of horror hides behind this short statements,

experienced by both the defenders and Ukrainian

civilian population. The worst was the rocket

attack on Friday April 28, when after 51 days of

calm Kiev became the target again. It happened

exactly on the day when Slovak president Zuzana

Čaputová and Czech president Petr Pavel were

visiting the capital. Both had to seek shelter due

to the air raid alarm. On that day, the Russian

strategic bombers launched 23 missiles, the

Ukrainian AA defense shot down 21 of them.

Two kamikaze drones were also destroyed. No

victims were reported in Kiev however in Dnipro

a women with three years old daughter died. The

worst impact was suffered by the town of Uman

where part of nine stories apartment building

collapsed after the hit. 23 people died including

four children. The attack took place at four

o clock in the morning when people were asleep.

Patriot protects Ukraine

In the end of April, the Ukrainian AA defense

received an important reinforcement. According

to the official statement of the Ukrainian AF,

the first battery of the Patriot system was


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fully operationally deployed and in the end of

the month another battery was preparing to

deploy to the positions and the action. There

have been talks about the possible Patriots’

delivery since October until the USA confirmed

in December delivery of one battery. In January,

Germany promised delivery of another battery

and Netherlands then joined with delivery of

two launchers. At peace time the crew training

takes a year, but the Ukrainian soldiers had to

complete it at Fort Sill in Oklahoma much sooner.

Their training was scheduled for 10 weeks – and

yet they managed to speed it up. “The Ukrainian

soldiers made impression and learned very fast.

Thanks to their deep knowledge and experiences

in the AA defense in the combat zone it was

easier for them, even though not always easy,

to understand Patriot system”, told US Army

General Shane Morgan to server Politico.

In total 65 Ukrainian soldiers, age 19 to 67,

including several women, participated in the

training. All were veterans of fighting against

the Russian invasion with older AA system of

the Soviet origin. Thanks to their vast combat

experience they could advance faster than the

students who would have to learn it all from

the scratch. After several weeks they were able

Photo: Ukrainian Armed

Forces, social media and

other public sources

to erect the system from the transportation

conditions to combat ready and operate it against

the simulated threats in less than 45 minutes

which is the American standard. They repeated

this exercise 2–3 times per day to obtain the

highest proficiency. Based on their knowledge

of the Russian operation they even created their

own scenarios. “They are best of the best in what

they do for the AA defense of Ukraine”, concluded

General Morgan for Politico. The training at Fort

Sill was completed in March. Then the Ukrainian

soldiers left the USA to an undisclosed location

in Europe where the training of the second group

of the Patriot crews took place. Both groups

completed their training there together and from

the end of April defend Ukraine.

Revenge in Sevastopol

Immediately the following day after the tragedy

in Uman an attack on the port of Sevastopol on

the occupied Crimea took place which Ukraine

called “God’s revenge”. Officially they don’t claim

these incidents at all. On Saturday April 29,

after the drones’ attack, the fuel dumps for the

Black Sea fleet were set on fire. The massive fire

destroyed, according to the Ukrainian estimates,

40.000 tons of fuel. The Russian officials stated

June 2023