Why was the Russian air defense failed when the Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopter attacked Belgorod?

The Russian air defence forces faced heavy criticism after the Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopter fleet successfully attacked the Belgorod fuel storage.

On April 1, the Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopter fleet quietly crossed a long distance and attacked the petroleum depot in Belgorod without being detected by the  Russian air defense.

Immediately after the attack, many questions were raised, including why the Russian air defense system could not detect these armed helicopters? It is easy to detect the Mi-8 helicopter which is a very old aircraft and even not stealthy.

In a conversation with military expert Yuri Podolyaka said that radar is difficult to see low-flying helicopters, and even more difficult for an area like Belgorod. The area is full of hills that’s makes the terrain is ideal for extremely low altitude infiltration flights.

Podolyaka explained that the helicopters entered the territory controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine – from the northwest of the Kharkiv region. From this point to the ambush site is about 40 km.

The Mi-24 Ukraine squadron crossed the above distance in about 8 minutes. Due to the very short time associated with the aircraft descending quite low, the radar was completely invisible.

Another important argument, Mr. Podolyaka believes in the fact that nowadays helicopters fly very often in the area near the border with Ukraine. Moreover, Mi-24s are present both in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and in the Russian Army. So it is difficult to determine whether it is a Ukrainian or Russian Mi-24, as the flight path is created as if the Russian plane was returning from a combat mission. Moreover, there have been no raids by Ukrainian helicopters into Russian soil to this day.

Of course, the element of surprise plays an important role. But in any case, the question that arises is why the Ukrainian helicopter was not shot down by the Russian air defenses?

Mr. Podolyaka said that long-range anti-aircraft missile systems would be useless in such a situation. The main example was the raid by Russian paratroopers on the Gostomel airfield, in which dozens of helicopters flew along the same route and landed.

Then one Ka-52 was shot down, the other was damaged by a man-portable anti-aircraft missile, not the S-300 or Buk-M1. It should be emphasized that the Ukrainian Army was waiting there, they knew that the Russian helicopter might appear but still did not react in time.

In the recent incident, the situation was completely different when the Mi-24 Ukraine made a surprise attack. “Therefore, blaming someone for oversleeping would be unfair,” Podolyaka said.

To avoid a repeat of this incident in the future, Podolyaka said: “If an early warning aircraft continuously patrols in this area, there is a high probability that the approach of a pair of Mi-24s will be detected. “.

“It is necessary to retain a few more fighters in the air at all times in order to respond to them in a timely manner, but this has not been witnessed in the skies around Belgorod. But, most likely, starting today, the above step will be done to prevent such attacks.”

The expert turned his attention to another important factor – in the wake of the Ukrainian special forces attack on the Belgorod oil depot, a large-scale information operation in Kyiv immediately began on social networks.

In light of the attack on information from Kyiv, Mr. Podolyaka believes it is important to stay calm and not panic over such actions.

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