13 Russian Fighter Jets Lost In 13 Days

Russia keeps losing their fighter jets and bombers to Ukraine, a country that no longer has a real air force. So how are they doing it? The author claims that Russia is flying many more sorties and bombing missions that leave them vulnerable to powerful Patriot system missiles and even Ukraine’s ex-Soviet S-200s. The theory is that Russia is trying to inflict as much damage as they possibly can ahead of the presidential election held March 15-17. The problem with that is they’re taking horrendous and unsustainable losses. On Saturday, Ukraine knocked two more of them from the sky.

Source: Forbes

The Ukrainian defense ministry on Saturday claimed its air-defense troops shot down yet another Russian air force Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber: the 11th Su-34 the Ukrainians claimed they destroyed in just two weeks alongside two Sukhoi Su-35 fighters and a rare Beriev A-50 radar plane.

The Ukrainians’ unprecedented aerial kill-streak—14 planes in 13 days—speaks to the air-defenders’ bravery and skill and the effectiveness of their unique integrated air-defense system, which combines old Soviet radars and missiles with the latest Western radars and missiles.

But it also speaks to a Russian compulsion to inflict as much damage on Ukraine as possible, as quickly as possible. One reason the Ukrainians are shooting down so many Russian planes is that the Russians are flying more bombing sorties than ever before.

It’s become a numbers game. Russia has about 100 Su-34 fighter bombers left and probably a similar number of Su-35 fighter jets. The Su-34 fighter bombers are used far more often and are attriting at a faster rate.

The hundred or so surviving Su-34s account for the majority of the 150 daily sorties. A typical Russian air force strike package includes two twin-seat Su-34s, each hauling four KAB GPS-guided glide-bombs, plus an escorting single-seat Su-35 carrying air-to-air and anti-radar missiles.

The crude KABs—1,100- and 3,300-pound bombs fitted with satellite guidance and pop-out wings—are the Russians’ weapons of choice. Flying high and fast, an Su-34 can lob a KAB with reasonable precision at a target as far as 25 miles away.

That’s far enough to keep the Sukhoi outside the range of the lightest air-defense weapons, but not far enough to keep the jets outside the range of heavier AD weapons such as American-made Patriots and ex-Soviet S-200s.

A few days ago they picked off two of them in one day. With 100 or more sorties per day, most get through, complete their mission and return. But a $50mil plane and a crew with years of training cannot be easily replaced.

Ever resourceful, Ukrainians are cutting them up for souvenirs.

And the inevitable memes, as always.

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