Russian Fighter Bombers Running Out Of Service Life, F-16 And Gripen Will Make Putin’s Forces Life Miserable

Russia’s fighter planes are malfunctioning because of overuse, handing Ukraine a potential advantage in its air battles against the Russian air force, an engineering expert said.

Overuse of these aircraft is also costing Russia as the war drags on, adding that by experts at Global Defense Corp calculations as many as 350 Russian planes, many repurposed Soviet-era machines, might have been lost because they broke down since the start of the war.

That’s in addition to UK intelligence figures in February, which suggested about 130 of the estimated 900 planes in Russia’s air force deployed in Ukraine had crashed or been shot down during the war.

Most of the aircraft are reaching the limit of their 3,000 hours of flight time, the problem could worsen.

To make up for it, they’ll have to procure more aircraft, increase maintenance, reduce operations, or accept a smaller force — or some combination of those.

The delivery of F-16 and Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine by its Western allies, which had been delayed by bureaucracy, could damage Russia’s air force even more.

“As the VKS devotes a greater share of its dwindling force to countering those, it will have fewer aircraft left to support Russian ground operations,” he wrote, referring to the Russian air forces. “VKS fighters in the sky will also be less capable, stemming from two years of overuse.”

The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank, said in a report that Russia retained the capacity to rapidly add to its aircraft supplies from its aeronautical factories, potentially meaning old aircraft can be quickly replaced, and its overall strength in the air had not significantly diminished.

In the early weeks of the conflict, some analysts believed that Russia would be able to establish rapid control of Ukrainian air space, with its air force more sophisticated and bigger than Ukraine’s. But effective Ukrainian air defenses meant that Russia was unable to do so.

As it seeks to retake territory from Russia in its counteroffensive, Ukraine will receive F-16s and Gripen mid-winter from its Western allies that it says would help tip the air battle in its favor.

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