Text: Miro Barič
The air war
A Ukrainian Mi-8NSB-V named Orc Hunter.
Peace has not arrived in Ukraine yet between May 16 and June
16. The ground operations were conducted in Donbas in the east
and in Kherson in the south. The air operations on both sides
corresponded to these activities.
On Monday May 16 the defenders of Azovstal
steelworks in Mariupol received the order
to cease the armed resistance. Till May 20
gradually all of them surrendered. It meant
that Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, which for
a month were carpeting the steelworks with
the heavy bombs, were released for other
missions – to launch the old (and vastly
inaccurate) Kh-22 rockets on the Ukrainian
cities. During these missions the bombers
enjoyed the safety of their own airspace.
Other aircraft did not cross the frontlines
neither – on both sides. In the second part
of this series, we mentioned the video capturing Mi-28 and Ka-52 helicopters operating as the airborne rocket launchers for the
carpet bombing by the unguided missiles.
Both Russian and Ukrainian Su-25s operate
in the same manner. The employment of the
fighter-bombers by both sides was captured
in videos. Su-25s are equipped either with
four B-8M1 rocket launchers for S-8 80 mm
caliber rocket or two B-13L rocket launchers for S-13 122 mm caliber rockets. With
this ordnance load out they arrived at the
the intended target. On Thursday June 2 this
was clearly demonstrated by a formation of
the Russian Su-25s which launched their
S-8 unguided missiles during the fighting
for the village of Komyshuvakha near the
city of Popasna. They hit their own infantry
column resulting in 50 dead and wounded
Russian soldiers. Now let’s make a little detour from the air war to the fighting on the
ground. Ukraine obviously possesses more
ammunition than aircraft which can use it.
The videos appeared that feature B-8M1 rocket launchers mounted on pickups or SUVs
at an approximately 45 degrees angle. In this
manner the Ukrainians use them as the ordinary ground rocket launchers.
maximum airspeed close to the ground then
they start climbing and during this maneuver
they launch salvos of the unguided missiles
towards the enemy’s positions on a ballistic
curve to maximize their range. At the same
time, they released chaff flares and right after launching the rockets they turned around
to fly back home. S-8 rockets deployed
in this manner can reach as far as 5 km.
Tom Cooper, author of many publications
on the modern
used the name
“spray and pay”
for this tactic.
The pilots spray
a target area
and pray that
they hit something. The slightest deviation
in the course
and the climbing
angle and the
The B-8M1 air-launched rocket launcher in the role of an 80 mm caliber afterburner.
The Ukrainian inscription on the side of the trailer stands for bees.