Ukraine has shot down six of the best Russian fighters in three days
Su-35

The Ukrainian Air Force has optimized its defense capabilities through the strategic distribution of Patriot missile batteries, with key locations in kyiv, the south, and the east of the country.

The Ukrainian Air Force faces a critical shortage of its most sophisticated arsenal, including U.S.-made Patriot missiles, which stand out for their aerial interception capabilities at ranges of up to 90 miles.

Despite the shortage, the use of these missiles is characterized by their exceptional precision, guaranteeing that each launch counts in the defense of national airspace.

In a context of urgent need, Ukraine has achieved notable success by shooting down up to six Russian fighter-bombers in a period of just three days, establishing an unsustainable loss rate for the Russian Air Force.

This feat has become a point of pride and dissemination for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, which enthusiastically proclaimed: “Russian planes continue to fall!” Among the downed aircraft were four two-seat Sukhoi Su-34s and two single-seat Sukhoi Su-35s.

The Su-34, the spearhead of Russian supersonic attack aviation, has been deployed mainly in close air support missions. These aircraft attack from high altitudes, dropping KAB precision bombs that can hit targets up to 40 kilometers away.

Deployment of Air Superiority: A hard blow for Russian aviation

Ukraine has shot down six of the best Russian fighters in three days
Su-34

For their part, the Su-35 represents the elite in air superiority fighters, playing a crucial role in escorting and protecting the Su-34 during their operations.

The first Sukhois trio was neutralized on Saturday in an operation located 100 kilometers east of Avdiivka, in the eastern sector of Ukraine. These fighters were apparently in the preparation phase to attack Ukrainian positions.

Subsequently, the Ukrainian military announced the downing of a fourth Sukhoi on Sunday and two additional ones on Monday, the latter over the Sea of ​​Azov in the southern region.

It is highly probable that the kills were achieved thanks to the intervention of the Patriot PAC-2 missile batteries, of which Ukraine has received three units in support from the United States and Germany. This air defense system has proven to be a determining factor in protecting Ukrainian airspace against Russian air raids.

Strategic air defense deployment: Ukraine reinforces its skies

Ukraine has shot down six of the best Russian fighters in three days
Su-35

The Ukrainian Air Force has optimized its defense capabilities through the strategic distribution of Patriot missile batteries, with key locations in Kyiv, the south, and the east of the country.

These units, mounted on trucks, have the versatility to relocate quickly without compromising their connection to radar systems, a tactic that allows them to maintain an effective and adaptable anti-aircraft defense.

Despite Ukrainian efforts, the Russian Air Force maintains a significant reserve of Sukhoi fighters. According to data collected by Oryx, over the course of two years of intense conflict, Russia has suffered the loss of 25 Su-34s out of a total of 150 and 6 Su-35s out of its 120 available.

However, the recent casualty rate—six aircraft in three days—poses a challenge to the operational sustainability of these fleets if this rate persists. Since February 2022, the total number of lost jets has risen to 95, equivalent to an average of four per month. However, the last week has seen an escalation to a rate of 60 monthly losses.

For an air force that has approximately a thousand fast fighter jets, facing a reduction of 60 units in a single month would represent a devastating blow.

A recent study by the Royal United Services Institute in London highlights that the loss of experienced crews could have an even more significant impact, given the high value they represent in terms of operational experience and tactical knowledge.

Operational limitations and future challenges in the Ukrainian sky

The effectiveness of Russian air operations is significantly constrained by the availability of qualified pilots to execute critical missions, note Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, leading analysts at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

However, it is highly unlikely that Ukraine’s ability to neutralize Russian aircraft will remain at the impressive average of two shootdowns per day. The situation is aggravated by the interruption in the supply of US military aid to Ukraine, attributed to blocking actions by Russian-friendly Republican factions, which has resulted in a critical decline in Ukrainian stockpiles of Patriot missiles, according to Anton Gerashchenko, former advisor to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

This arsenal limitation not only affects Ukraine’s ability to confront the aerial threat represented by the Sukhoi fighters but also impacts the country’s air defense strategy by having to distribute its valuable PAC-2 missile resources between aircraft interception. And the neutralization of Russian ballistic missiles aimed at key urban centers such as Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa.

Consequently, the intensity of Sukhoi fighter shootdowns is likely to see a decline in the near term, reflecting growing limitations in Ukraine’s air defense arsenal. This scenario poses a significant challenge for Ukraine, which, while it does not diminish its technical and strategic competence, does affect its operational ability to maintain pressure on the Russian air forces.