Russia recently launched its first major drone attack against Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv after taking a 12-day hiatus but the Kremlin’s assault didn’t go as planned after officials in the city announced that the country’s air defense forces destroyed every drone.
Serhii Popko is the head of Kyiv’s city administration and he reported on his Telegram channel that all Iranian-made Shahed drones launched at Kyiv were shot down by the country’s air defense forces.
“Our air defense forces and assets detected and destroyed all enemy targets in the airspace around Kyiv,” Popko explained according to a translation from The Kyiv Independent.
The Associated Press also reported that Kyiv Oblast’s Regional Governor Ruslan Kravchenko said one person was injured in the attack as a result of falling debris.
An official count on the number of drones launched against Kyiv wasn’t given out by the city’s officials but the Ukrainian Air Force later stated that 8 Shahed drones and three Kalibr missiles had been launched against the capital city.
The effective defense of Kyiv against Russia’s July 2nd attack is in line with a larger trend of Ukraine’s growing ability to defend its airspace against Russian air assaults.
Ukrainian air defenses have gotten increasingly good at stopping Russian air attacks over the last several months and the numbers from May showed that something has changed.
On May 24th, Russia launched an air raid using 36 Shahed-136 and 131 drones against the north and south but all 36 were destroyed by a combination of air defense forces.
Ukraine also downed 29 of 30 missiles on May 18th in a brazen assault that came just days after the country shot down 6 hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, according to Reuters. Russia is targeting location where Ukraine didn’t place either NASAMS or Iris-T SLM anti-air missiles.
The reasons for Ukraine’s stunning performance in their air defense are varied but it is in no small part due to experience and the modern weapons the West has supplied.
“It’s a vast improvement since the opening days of the war, when waves of Russian missiles and aircraft eluded many Ukrainian defenses and inflicted heavy losses on Kyiv’s air force,” wrote David Rising and Arhirova of the Associated Press.
Rising and Arhirova argued the addition of Western air defense weapons combined with the growing experience of their crews has allowed the Ukrainian Armed Forces to make great strides in their saving lives and infrastructure while halting Russian air superiority.
For example, the German Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns have proved to be a game changer for the Ukrainian air defense crews according to reporting from CNN.
“Thanks to the fact that this anti-aircraft system has a computer system that automatically helps us to detect the target, capture it, and help us destroy it as soon as possible,” one Ukrainian air defense soldier explained to CNN.
“There may be more than one target, maybe three or four targets, and we need to destroy them one by one, so the computer system makes it as easy as possible for the operator to do their job.” the soldier continued.
While Ukrainian air defenses aren’t one hundred percent perfect, they’ve come a long way from the early days of the war, and their new kill rate shows that when supplied with the proper weapons the soldiers fighting on the ground can hold their own.
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