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Foreign Affairs

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TexasTowelie

(111,903 posts)
Sat Feb 24, 2024, 02:40 AM Feb 24

23 Feb: What a day! Ukrainians unleash new era anti-aircraft missiles with 250 km range. - Reporting from Ukraine [View all]



Day 730: Feb 23

Today, there are a lot of interesting news.

First of all, the Russian Armed Forces suffered a strategically significant loss of an A-fifty-U Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft. This is already the second A-fifty aircraft that Russians lost just over the last two months. For context, the radar on this aircraft helps Russians detect virtually any object within a hundred-kilometer radius, and Russians had only a handful of such game-changing pieces of technology that allow them to assert local air superiority. Today, the number of A-fifty aircraft in the Russian arsenal has been reduced to seven, and with the current rate of losses, Russians will completely run out of them in just half a year. What makes the situation even worse is that Russians basically cannot produce new A-fifty aircraft due to sanctions.

The incident happened near the Azov Sea, which is quite interesting because the last A-fifty was shot down here as well. If you still remember, Ukrainian forces significantly depleted Russian detection and surveillance capabilities in Crimea by conducting an extensive series of strikes in January, which resulted in the destruction of multiple radar stations. In order to compensate for the lack of radars, Russians started to deploy A-fifty to close the sky, however, the aircraft got within Patriot air defense system range and was promptly intercepted.

This time, the Russian aircraft was intercepted more than two hundred fifty kilometers away from the front line, which is outside the one hundred-fifty-kilometer range of Patriot systems. This raised a lot of questions and speculations regarding the mysterious interception.

Russian sources reported that at the moment of the incident, the Russian air defense system was busy intercepting two missiles that Ukrainians launched from the Dnipro area. Due to the fact that the trajectories of the missiles and the A-fifty aircraft were close, the Russian air defense operators reportedly got confused, thought the A-fifty aircraft was also a missile, and shot it down. The proponents of this version of events claim that the Russian air defense has had many such instances in the past. The critics of this theory claim that judging by the speed and size of the massive A-fifty aircraft, it is impossible to confuse it with the missile, especially given that this aircraft is basically a flying radar that gives information to the air defense operators. Moreover, the aircraft had just taken off and was steadily gaining speed and altitude, and it was also moving away from Russia, not toward it. The critics also said that they do not believe that all six aircraft in the last two months were lost due to friendly fire and noted that throughout this two-year war, seventy-five percent of all Russian aircraft losses were reported as friendly fire accidents. The critics speculated that the aircraft was shot down by the sabotage groups with man-portable air defense systems that were operating on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian sources reported that the A-fifty aircraft's interception resulted from a successful operation by the Ukrainian Air Force and Special Forces. The Spokesman for the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate reported that Ukrainians used modified S-two-hundred air defense systems to identify and destroy the target. Even though the S-two-hundred missile was developed in the Soviet Union, Ukrainians have reportedly modernized them to the point where the only common thing between them and their old counterparts is the carcass.

Regardless of which version is correct, the destruction of the scarce A-fifty aircraft is expected to bring temporary relief from bombardments on the front. As A-fifty can track up to sixty targets simultaneously, it provided excellent cover for the Russian fighter-bombers from the possible retaliation from the Ukrainian air defense. Russian forces established and enjoyed this local air superiority the most in the Avdiivka direction, where they have been dropping up to sixty bombs per day during the peak heat of the Battle for Avdiivka.

According to both Ukrainian and Russian sources, even though the use of bombs significantly decreased after Russians lost five fighter-bombers, the bombardments did not cease completely. As mentioned previously, the next main Ukrainian defense line is north of the small river, which made it...
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