How long will Russia’s precision weapons last? Looking at the most modern fighter of the Russian Air Force, using ordinary bombs, it can be speculated.
The fighter aircraft of the Russian Air Forces now seem to have significantly reduced their activities, not to mention the bombing of deep targets in Ukraine, even in the front-line areas. It can be seen that the Ukrainian army has shot down the many cruise missiles and drones now. Still, very few fixed-wing fighters and helicopters have been shot down, and sometimes even none.
Neither the Russian and Ukrainian militaries provided further information on the change. Still, analysts believe that the emergence of this situation is related to strengthening the Ukrainian air defense network, which NATO supports. The strength of the Ukrainian Air Force and the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces, while the real-time intelligence provided by NATO has become a “force multiplier” for the Ukrainian air defense network, has dramatically curbed the activities of the Russian Air Force. Of course, due to the lack of sufficient aircraft, the Ukrainian Air Force is also difficult to carry out in-depth strikes against the Russian army, and its activities in the forward areas are also limited.
In a new report, the British Ministry of Defence pointed out that the Russian Air Force is running out of precision-guided munitions, which means that the Russian Air Force will use more unguided bombs and rockets. But munitions aged are less reliable, less accurate, and more easily intercepted.” Despite Russia’s claims that “Ukrainian cities will thus be spared bombing,” the massive use of unguided munitions poses a greater danger to Ukrainian cities and civilians.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov has denied the U.K. Ministry of Defense report that Russia has enough guided munitions to carry out its mission in Ukraine’s “special military operation.” But some analysts, including Russian experts, don’t think so: the Russian army’s guided munitions were exhausted as early as the beginning of the Syrian civil war, and in Ukraine’s “special military operation,” the Russian Aerospace Forces rarely used precise Guided munitions but dropped unguided bombs in large numbers.
Now, the Russian Air Force fighter jets no longer dare to go deep into the Ukrainian airspace to carry out in-depth bombing missions. Instead, two bombers, Tu-160 and Tu-95MS, launch cruise missiles in Russian airspace or over the Caspian Sea. Together with the Russian Navy, they will attack Ukraine. Long-range precision strikes in the west are aimed at Ukrainian arsenals, oil depots, and transportation hubs. However, the limited strike intensity, accuracy, reliability, and other issues make the Russian military’s long-range precision strikes ineffective, at least on most of Ukraine’s railways. The network is still functioning effectively. Referring to the use of guided munitions and cruise missiles in similar conflicts by the U.S. military, the amount of such ordnance used by the Russian military is far from enough or even insufficient to seize air supremacy.
The Russian military industry was also reported to be unable to meet the consumption of the Russian army in “special military operations.” However, the Ukrainian side found through dismantling that the KH-101 cruise missile was in active service in the Russian military; its guidance system used outdated technology in the 1970s, which also explained the lack of accuracy of the Russian cruise missile. But objectively speaking, at least it can be used, but with the intensification of Western sanctions, the supply chain of the Russian military industry has been significantly damaged. Many military industry companies have even been forced to stop production.
The Russian government promoted the establishment of an alternative industrial chain a few years ago, and it was not effective. Although alternative products or even more advanced electronic components can be obtained from abroad through some abnormal means, testing will take a long time. With system modifications, high-tech weapons and ammunition production cannot be resumed for a short period.
After intervening in the Syrian civil war at the end of September 2015, the Russian Air Force used guided bombs so heavily that Western military experts claimed that their level was equivalent to NATO airpower in the Kosovo War, but this was short-lived after all. By 2015, the Russian Air Force could no longer use guided bombs in large numbers. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it had placed an order, and the Russian military industry was working overtime to produce guided munitions to meet the needs of the Russian military. Unguided bombs and guided bombs are rarely dropped.
Many people may not be aware that although technology is backward. Its performance, reliability, and usage limitations are not as good as similar Western products; the price of guided bombs made by Russia is more expensive.