Since February 24, the Russian-Ukrainian war has been fought for nearly 4 months. The two sides have fought fiercely, and the largest urban offensive and defensive operation have been carried out around the eastern region of Ukraine during this war. Russian Air Force suffered heavy losses during this war.
According to incomplete statistics, the Russian Aerospace Forces have lost 32 fighter jets and 43 helicopters of various types, and the Russian army has also lost 79 drones of various types, a total of more than 150 aircraft have been destroyed during this ongoing war by Ukrainian Forces.
The biggest losses were the attack aircraft and fighter-bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces. Among them, Russia lost 11 Su-25 Ground-attack aircrafts and 10 Su-34 Fullback Tactical Bombers/Fighter-bombers. These two types accounted for 65% of the fighter losses. The Russian Aerospace Force’s armed helicopters losses are also very large, accounting for 73% of all helicopter combat losses. This does not includes the various types of Russian military aircrafts that suffered battle damage and returned safely to the airbase.
According to the intelligence analysis obtained by the US Department of Defense from various sources, the Russian Aerospace Forces dispatched more than 300 fixed-wing aircrafts of various types and lost about 10% of its troops during this war.
The main force of the Russian Aerospace Forces is 5 air defense groups. In this Russian-Ukrainian war, at least 4 air defense groups was dispatched, including the 4th, 6th, 11th and 14th air defense groups. Among them, the 4th Air Defense Army of the Southern Military Region dispatched 60 fighter jets of various types, which is the largest number of aircrafts dispatched by the Russian Aerospace Forces.
The 6th Air Defense Army of the Western Military District of Russia dispatched a subordinate fighter regiment and some helicopter detachments. The Russian military dispatched only 24 Su-30SM fighter jets from the 14th Guards Fighter Regiment.
Because the Western Military Region and the Southern Military Region did not have enough troops, before the Russian-Ukrainian War, Russia began to mobilize main troops from the Far East to the Russian-Ukrainian battlefield. The 11th Air Defense Army of the Eastern Military Region dispatched 2 fighter regiments and 1 attack aircraft regiment to cooperate with the Russian military operations, and dispatched a total of 74 fighters.
Judging from the current information available in the public, the Central Military Region of Russia has not yet dispatched aircrafts, but dispatched an air defense regiment of S-300P long-range air defense missiles, responsible for providing air defense cover for the Russian ground forces.
The Russian Aerospace Forces have a total of more than 1,300 combat aircrafts. This time, more than 160 aircraft of various types were dispatched, accounting for one-eighth of the total number of tactical aircrafts. There are 120-150 support planes among the 300 dispatched planes. Therefore, the battlefield reconnaissance situation of the US military intelligence department is basically true.
Judging from the loss of ground-attack aircrafts and fighter jets, the number of warplanes lost by the Russian Aerospace Forces has approached 20% of the total number of aircraft deployed into the battlefield. It can be clearly said that the loss is very large.
The loss of helicopters is also very large, especially gunships, which includes almost all the main battle groups of the Russian Aerospace Forces. This is because the Russian Aerospace Forces need gunships for low-altitude fire cover in the process of covering the advance of the Russian Army. In addition of being hit by conventional air defense missiles, weapons that can be operated by individual soldiers such as the “Stinger” also cause losses to Russian gunships.
What is the current status of Russian bombers?
The bomber unit of the long-range aviation force of the Russian Aerospace Forces has a very low dispatch frequency. It only dispatched multiple Tu-22M3 bombers in the combat operation against the Azov steel plant. Therefore, the long-range aviation force has not yet reported any battle damage. After Russia cancelled the operational plan to seize the Kyiv airfield, the transport aircrafts of the Russian Transport Aviation Command were not used in large numbers and did not suffer losses.
The main combat direction of the Russian Western Military Region is Europe. It stands to reason that the 6th Air Defense Army of the Russian Aerospace Forces deployed in the Western Military Region should be the main force, but the army only dispatched 24 Su-30SM fighters. Is it sufficient? Certainly not!
There are more powerful enemies of Russia in the Western Military Region. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, Russia had to prepare for a very large number of strategic reserves to guard against the NATO.
The fighters of the 6th Air Defense Army are all prepared for the NATO forces. The defense line of the 6th Air Defense Army spans up to 2,000 kilometers from north to south. The Russian army has deployed four fighter regiments here. About 100 fighters and attack aircraft, the sixth Air Defense Army only dispatched more than 20 fighter jets in one regiment. It can be seen that Russia understands that the real threat is NATO.
Russian forces has travelled thousands of miles from the Far East to mobilize its aviation troops to the front line. The fighter jets of the 11th Air Defense Army of the Eastern Military Region flew to the military airport of the Western Military Region. Although they had undergone intense pre-war training, the troops of the Eastern Military Region were still unable to quickly Get into the rhythm. In the early days of the war, certain losses occurred.
The Russian army can be said to be constrained everywhere and cannot use its full strength, and a considerable part of its strength is used to guard against NATO.
In 2021, Russia’s military expenditure was more than 60 billion US dollars, which is only 12% of that of the United States. There is not much allocated to the Russian Aerospace Force. With such a small military expenditure, it is already stretched to purchase combat platforms such as fighter jets and attack aircraft. It is really difficult for the Russian army to purchase a large amount of expensive precision-guided munitions.
In the Russia-Ukrainian War, the Russian Aerospace Forces have two main combat missions: one is to achieve complete air supremacy , and the other is to provide air defense cover for ground troops operations. The Russian army has completely suppressed the Ukrainian air force in the initial military operations, and the Russian army has firmly grasped the air supremacy in its own hands.
In the military operations of the Russian army, the attack efficiency of the Russian Aerospace Forces is too low. Even today, the MiG-29 fighter jets and S-300 air defense missiles of the Ukrainian Air Force are still functioning.
The use of precision-guided munitions by the Russian Aerospace Forces is obviously not enough, and the lack of battlefield reconnaissance has led to serious consequences. It is often seen that the advanced Su-34 “Fullback” fighter-bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces carry unguided weapons to attack the ground. This is really a waste of time and effort, no wonder why it was shot down by the Ukrainian Army!
The performance of the Russian Aerospace Forces is not satisfactory in this war.
In the eyes of the outside world, the Russian Aerospace Forces are somewhat “arbitrary” when covering the actions of the ground troops. Many ground troops of the Russian Army were raided by the Ukrainian army during the advance and suffered serious losses. On the one hand, the army’s reconnaissance work was not in place during the advancement process, and on the other hand, the ground fire support of the Russian Aerospace Forces was “not good”.
Russian Aerospace Forces War Concepts are Outdated in Modern Warfare
Fundamentally speaking, it is because of the problems in the combat command system of the Russian Aerospace Forces that the level of informatization is still in the era of mechanized warfare and cannot meet the requirements of the battlefield. Precision-guided weapons and ammunition are also seriously insufficient. Although the Russian army has also developed various types of precision-guided bombs and air-to-surface missiles, the numbers is seriously insufficient.
The precision-guided munitions equipped by the Russian Aerospace Forces mainly include KAB-250 guided bombs and X-59MK2 air-to-surface missiles. The KAB-250 guided bombs are guided by satellites and lasers. The weight of this type of bombs reaches 250 kg. The main force of the Russian Aerospace Forces are all types of tactical aircrafts, but in the Russian-Ukrainian war, the number of Russian Aerospace Forces used is very small. Mainly unguided traditional ammunition plays the leading role in the insufficiently of these warplanes.
The price of precision-guided munitions is very expensive, and the price of small diameter bombs equipped by the US Air Force has reached hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Russian army cannot afford a large number of precision-guided munitions for the Aerospace Forces, and the price of air-to-ground missiles with a longer range is even higher.
Although the price of unguided ground-guided bombs is very cheap, and the inventory is sufficient to support Russia to fight a large-scale war, the operational efficiency and accuracy is very low. This type of bomb has no engine and no glider, and the range is only a few kilometers to ten kilometers, which is completely unable to meet the combat requirements.
The Russian Aerospace Forces had to use the low-altitude penetration mode to approach the attack. As a result, the Russian military aircraft entered the range of the portable air defense missiles equipped by the Ukrainian military, causing a lot of losses to the Russian military aircraft.
After the Russian Aerospace Forces suffered major battle losses, the Russian army also changed its style of combat, mainly using two methods: if dealing with large targets, the Russian army would use bombers to carry high-yield air-to-ground bombs for high-altitude bombing; if dealing with small targets, the Russian army would deploy large number of armed helicopters to be used to penetrate low-altitude defenses.
The Russian army used armed helicopters to deal with ground targets in the war. Although the cost and efficiency of helicopters are higher than that of tactical aircraft, helicopters have low flying heights and slow speeds. They are also excellent targets for portable air defense missiles. We saw Ka-52 and Mi-24 series of gunships shot down in large numbers by Ukrainian Army.
Although NATO countries did not directly send a large number of troops to intervene in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, they provided direct intelligence support for the Ukrainian army. The Russian army’s route of action and deployment location for the Ukrainian army were clear, which made the Russian Aerospace Forces suffer heavy losses. In addition, NATO also directly provided weapons and equipment to the Ukrainian army to fight against the Russian army.
The Russian Aerospace Forces made many mistakes at the beginning of the war, and the land route from Poland to Ukraine has been unimpeded. The Russian army should directly cut off the land channel of NATO assistance to Ukraine, so that a large amount of NATO assistance cannot enter Ukraine, especially the man-portable air defense missiles. This war has taught the Russian Aerospace Forces a very heavy lesson.
What Indian Air Force can learn from Russia-Ukraine War?
The Indian Air Force is already in the best stage of development in its history, and both platforms and ammunition have achieved unprecedented development. Take the Tejas platform as an example, a decent number of advanced 4 and 4.5 generation fighter jets have been equipped with the Squadrons of the Indian Air Force. The Indian Air Force has one of the world’s largest heavy fighters in its fleet Su-30MKI.
The Indian Air Force also gives great importance to the development of airborne ammunition. Various guidance methods such as satellite, inertial navigation, millimeter wave, laser, TV, infrared and other ground-based ammunition have been developed by DRDO, and lots new generation fighter aircraft, AAM and other munition are under development or about to introduction, and a large number of air force squadrons are being equipped. Indian Air Force has also purchased large amounts of precision-guided munitions from USA, France, Russia, Israel, etc to support its future military operations.