According to military officials in Kyiv, the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) have recently adopted a new tactical approach. Kyiv reports that Russian fighter jets are now operating in an offensive operational posture, reducing their presence in traditional patrol areas. Over the past few days, Russian warplanes have deliberately flown into Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems’ range in an effort to locate their positions. Ukraine possesses a formidable arsenal of air defense systems, including Soviet S-300s, as well as recently acquired Patriot, IRIS-T, and NASAMS systems. These developments were confirmed by Mr. Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, head of the Ukrainian United Press Center of the Tavric Direction.
When fighter jets operate in an offensive attack position, one of their primary objectives is to locate the port’s air defenses. At the beginning of the war, the Russian Air Force had to neutralize the enemy’s air defense in the first days and weeks. This allowed Russian fighter jets to operate more freely over Ukraine, resulting in intensified air attacks. Despite receiving various air defense system supplies, Ukraine has not yet regained its pre-war anti-aircraft capabilities. However, if the delivery of these systems continues, Ukraine could significantly improve its anti-aircraft defenses by the end of the year, posing a threat to Russian warplanes.
By deliberately entering the enemy’s air defense system range, Russian warplanes are taking a considerable risk. Although this tactic allows them to locate the air defenses, it also means Ukraine can use the air defense radars to intercept their missiles. However, Ukraine’s non-use of these radars suggests that they are using real-time targeting information from US/NATO AWACS to shell Russian positions.
The recent official announcement from Kyiv regarding the change in tactics by the Russian Air Force is not a revelation. In fact, the Moscow command had already announced this change at the beginning of the year. According to a source from Russia’s military department had even confided to a Russian journalist in a private conversation that Moscow was preparing to change tactics. The source revealed that there would be fewer patrols or defensive flights and more offensive ones, precisely what official Kyiv is claiming is happening now.
Furthermore, this shift in tactics implies that Moscow has acknowledged the likelihood of losing aircraft. Accepting the risk of engaging the enemy’s air defenses by changing tactics and increasing the frequency of attacks inevitably leads to a higher likelihood of being hit. Consequently, the decision to alter tactics demonstrates a willingness to take on this increased risk in exchange for a higher chance of success on target.
During his remarks, Mr. Dmitrashkovsky also discussed the evolution of Russian drone tactics. According to his statements, the Russian armed forces have recently altered the way they employ these weapons. Specifically, Iran’s Shahed-136 (Geran-2) drones are now being utilized as decoys. The primary objective of these drones is to determine the precise location of stationary or mobile air defense systems. When the defense system identifies the Shahed-136 as a threat and launches a missile to intercept it, the probability of successfully shooting it down is quite high. However, at that moment, the defense system is attacked from another direction by a Russian Lancet kamikaze drone.
The situation at hand resembles a game of chess, prompting an intriguing and critical inquiry: is it plausible that the Russians have successfully synchronized the data transfer between the Iranian Shahed-136 and the Russian Lancet drones? The timing of the attack, as described by the Ukrainian spokesperson, suggests that such coordination may indeed be possible.
In addition to this, according to Mr. Dmitrashkovsky, the Russian Air Force has found a new application for the aerial bombs that have been a topic of much discussion in recent weeks.
The Russian Air Force has also repurposed the 500 and 1,500 kg aerial bombs, utilizing them as a form of distraction. While the bombs are sure to cause significant destruction, the question remains as to whether they will serve a greater purpose.
The Ukrainians are faced with an immensely difficult decision in determining how to respond to these bombs, as they are essentially caught in a no-win situation. If they do not attempt to intercept the bombs with their air defense systems, destruction is all but guaranteed.
In the ongoing conflict, the Russian Air Force has been using aerial bombs as decoys, which poses a difficult decision for the Ukrainian air defense system. The bombs are guaranteed to cause significant damage, and if the air defense system doesn’t intercept them, it will result in destruction. On the other hand, intercepting the bomb means turning on the air defense system, which exposes it to Russian fighters and missiles. The battery commander must make a decision that could potentially lead to intercepting one threat but not the other, or not intercepting either. This tactical move is aimed at tightening the grip on the front line, as revealed by Dmitrashkovsky’s statement. Moreover, our sources suggest that Russia is preparing to deploy LO Sirius heavy drone along the entire front line, equipped with 100kg precision-guided bombs, which poses a new threat for the Ukrainian armed forces.