Ukraine has lost about 60 plans so far since Russia’s new invasion of the country in February 2022, while the Russians have lost more than 70, according to the US Air Force’s top commander for Europe. After the largest Russian air force failed to establish air superiority in the early days of the war, the air landscape has turned into an environment of mutual denial, Gen. James B. Hecker said on March 6 at the Air Force Symposium. AFA War.
According to Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa and NATO Allied Air Command, “Russian and Ukrainian successes in integrated air and missile defense have meant that much of these aircraft have no value.”
“Russia has shot down more than 60 Ukrainian plans,” he added. “Ukraine has shot down more than 70 Russian planes. So both their integrated air defense and their missile defense, especially when you’re talking about going against aircraft, have been very effective. And that’s why they don’t fly over each other’s country.
Russian air defenses are located in Russia, Belarus, and parts of occupied Ukraine and have the ability to roam. This has made it difficult for Ukraine to use the air force in the combined arms counteroffensive that the Ukrainians are planning for the spring and summer.
“They’re not doing much,” Hecker said. “They can’t get in close and do close air support.”
The United States has tried to bolster the Ukrainian air force with AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles, which have been rigged to work with the country’s Soviet-designed fighters.
“Obviously, they’re not as integrated into the aircraft as they would be in US aircraft, so they have limitations,” Hecker said of the Ukrainian use of HARMs. “But they’re doing a pretty good job.”
The United States has also recently provided the Ukrainian air forces with JDAM precision-guided bombs that have expanded the strike capability of the Ukrainians. Hecker said that allows them to hit targets slightly beyond the current range of GMRLS rockets fired from HIMARS launchers.
The GMLRS rockets that the United States has provided to Ukraine have a range of almost 80 kilometers. The United States has refused to provide Ukraine with long-range ATACMS missiles that have a range of nearly 200 miles.
“Recently, we’ve given them some precision munitions that had a longer range and can go quite a bit farther than a gravity-launched bomb,” Hecker said. “And it’s accurate. That’s a recent ability that we’ve been able to give them probably in the last three weeks.”
But Ukraine must still fly low to mask the terrain of its planes against Russian surface-to-air missiles. Ukraine has requested US fighters such as F-16s, but the Biden administration has refused to provide them over the objections of some US lawyers.