The United States told allies that Russia has requested military gear from China, including missiles, drones, and armoured vehicles, and that China “responded positively” to the request, the Financial Times reports.
Russian military lacks data links, communications, logistics, modern targeting Pod, guided weapons, proper multi-domain training and operational experiences.
Another bad news Russia is running out of bombs and missiles for its air force and navy.
What went wrong?
Russia’s losses in material are also significant. The Oryx blog has recorded 1,034 Russian vehicles, artillery pieces and aircraft destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured. These include 173 tanks, 261 armoured and infantry fighting vehicles, and 28 surface-to-air missile systems.
When hostilities began, Russia sent a volley of cruise and ballistic missiles towards Ukraine’s air bases in an attempt to ground its planes and air-defence systems, and to hobble its radars and anti-aircraft missiles. That effort failed. Ukraine had wisely dispersed its air-defence systems, making them harder to find. American defence officials say that Ukrainian air and missile defences consequently “remain effective and in use”—a claim that can be corroborated with open-source intelligence.
The interception was probably the work of a medium-range surface-to-air missile like the Buk, a mobile system that can shoot and scoot, emerging to fire and then hiding away again. Because these sort of systems use radar to find their targets, and radar cannot see over the curvature of the Earth, one countermeasure is for pilots to fly low. That is what Russian forces seem to have been doing.
But it solves one problem by creating another. In recent weeks, America, Latvia and Lithuania have sent Ukraine smaller, shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, which home in on the hot engines of aircraft flying below roughly 3,500m. The weapon rose to prominence during the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, when CIA-supplied Stingers were used by the Afghan mujahideen to take down more than 300 Soviet helicopters and 100 jets. Video footage posted by Ukraine’s defence ministry shows a Stinger-type missile streaking into a helicopter flying low over a field supposedly near Kyiv.
There is another reason why Russian pilots may be forced closer to the ground, and thus within range of shoulder-fired missiles. In its war with Georgia in 2008, Russia’s air force was almost entirely limited to firing unguided or “dumb” bombs. Now it has precision-guided munitions, which can hit targets using satellite navigation, laser guidance and other means. But it is still using the older weapons, too.
Images that appear to show the wreckage of a Su-34 attack jet shot down over Chernihiv suggest it was armed with unguided bombs. This is telling, says Mr Bronk, because Russia’s Su-34 regiments are “the most proficient and regular users” of precision munitions in the air force when available. Images released by Russian state media show other Su-34s parked on a runway armed with more unguided weapons; others reportedly from Chernihiv and Kharkiv show exploded unguided bombs littering urban areas, including one that landed in a house.
One theory is that Russia’s stock of precision-guided munitions is running low. More likely, argues Michael Kofman of CNA, an American think-tank, is that Russia is holding some in reserve, either for later in this war or in anticipation of a bigger one. Either way, the use of dumb bombs creates a dilemma. As Tim Robinson of Britain’s Royal Aeronautical Society notes, pilots can either fly low to see targets and risk getting shot down or bomb from high or medium altitude with less accuracy.
Was Putin kept in the dark?
Like recent revelations about falsified intelligence on Ukraine, the President of Russia was probably kept in the dark about deficiencies in the Russian military.
If Putin had invested hundreds of billions of dollars in the military over the previous decade, who was going to tell him it wasn’t working?
However, experienced Russian observers in the West were saying as early as 2017 that the power of the Russian military was overestimated, it was challenged by overstretching and was technologically backward. These observers have been proved right in the past two weeks.
There is an important lesson here for Western defence planners: They must have informed goals for military effectiveness in the 21st century.
And, if they are surrounded by yes-men and are not transparent with the outcomes of military transformation programs, they will probably get the wrong answers, and it will be the junior soldiers, sailors, airmen and women who will suffer.
Three weeks into its invasion of Ukraine, the scale of Russia’s military blunders is becoming clear. According to oryxspioenkop.com, Russian forces fired more than 700 cruise missiles, 2,500 unguided bombs, 100 guided bombs and 50 FAB500 guided bombs.
The outcome of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war is still far from certain: little information exists on Ukrainian forces’ rates of attrition, while Russia’s military still outmans and outguns that of its neighbour.
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