Kyiv claims shoot-down two Su-34s and a Su-35 in Eastern Ukraine

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Our headlines today, February 17th, bring grim news for the Russian Federation‘s Airborne Space Forces. They have lost not just one or two, but three aircraft – encompassing two frontline Su-34 bombers and a Su-35 fighter. This information was brought to light by the Air Force Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, pointing out the eastern direction where these adversary planes were downed. 

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It’s crucial to underscore that the specific configuration of these aircraft, combined with the simultaneity of their destruction, strongly suggests that they were part of a squadron equipped with UMPK kits. These kits can transform these bombers into gliders. According to the standard operating procedures for such scenarios, a pair of Su-34s would strike ground-level targets while being protected by a Su-35 fighter. The added advantage of the fighter is its capability to launch anti-radar missiles. 

Let’s quickly summarize the key takeaway here. High-altitude aerodynamic targets can be hit by GEM-T anti-aircraft missiles from as far as 150km away. In a so-called “no escape” zone, set within a 110km radius, any enemy fighter-class aircraft would not be able to evade a missile attack. Meanwhile, the UMPK-equipped bombers can glide down to a range of 60-70km.

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‘Roaming Patriot’

The ‘Roaming Patriot’ is a tactical approach utilized by the military, specifically in missile defense. It involves the use of the Patriot missile system, a highly advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, designed to detect, target, and destroy incoming enemy aircraft and missiles. 

The ‘Roaming Patriot’ tactic essentially involves a mobile defense strategy. Instead of keeping the Patriot missile systems in fixed locations, they are moved around various locations. This mobility allows the system to be in unexpected places, creating an ‘ambush’ situation for enemy aircraft. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The tactic is named ‘Roaming Patriot’ because the Patriot missile systems are perpetually ‘roaming’ or moving. This constant movement makes it difficult for enemy forces to pinpoint where the systems will be at a given time, thereby increasing the chances of successfully intercepting and destroying enemy aircraft. 

The ‘Roaming Patriot’ tactic is particularly effective as it adds an element of surprise to missile defense. Enemy forces may not anticipate where the Patriot missile systems are located until it’s too late. This tactic also expands the coverage area, as the systems can be relocated where they’re needed most.

Su-34 and Su-35

The Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-35 are two unique aircraft models deployed by the Russian Air Force, each with its distinctive capabilities and roles. The Su-34, also known as the Fullback, primarily functions as a fighter-bomber, designed to deliver significant payloads to enemy targets. Conversely, the Su-35, or the Flanker-E, is an advanced multirole fighter capable of executing air superiority, strike, and reconnaissance missions. 

In its role as a bomber, the Su-34 comes equipped with an assortment of air-to-surface weapons for ground attack missions. It’s crafted to penetrate hostile territories, deliver its payload, and return securely. Its robust armor and electronic countermeasures grant some resistance against enemy defenses. However, it’s worth noting that it is not a stealth aircraft and can be identified by radar. 

In contrast, the Su-35, although not a genuine stealth aircraft, exhibits a reduced radar cross-section compared to the Su-34. This characteristic makes it more challenging for enemy radars to spot, permitting it to operate nearer to enemy lines without detection. Equipped with advanced avionics and sensors, it provides superior situational awareness.

Su-34/Su-35 tactic

The strategy of utilizing the Su-34 for bombardment and the Su-35 for ‘stealth’ works by amalgamating the strengths of both aircraft. The Su-34 delivers firepower, launching attacks at enemy targets, while the Su-35 provides cover with its superior speed, agility, and reduced radar visibility to engage or discourage enemy aircraft that might pose a threat to the Su-34. 

This tactic results in an amplification of the efficiency and survivability of the Russian Air Force’s strike missions. By employing the Su-35 to safeguard the Su-34, the Russians can deliver potent attacks against their adversaries while minimizing the risk to their fleet.

Photo credit: Military Watch Magazine

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On February 21, 2022, Russia stated that its border facility was attacked by Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of five Ukrainian fighters. However, Ukraine quickly dismissed these allegations, labeling them as ‘false flags’.

In a notable move on the same day, Russia announced it officially recognized the self-proclaimed areas of DPR and LPR. Interestingly, according to Russian President Putin, this recognition covered all the Ukrainian regions. Following this declaration, Putin sent a battalion of Russia’s military forces, tanks included, into these areas.

Fast forward to February 24, 2022, global headlines were dominated by a significant incident. Putin commanded a forceful military assault on Ukraine. Led by Russia’s impressive Armed Forces positioned at the Ukrainian border, this assault wasn’t spontaneous but a premeditated action. Despite the circumstances resembling a war, the Russian government refrains from using this term. They’d rather refer to it as a “special military operation”.


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