10 downed Russian planes in 10 days: Ukraine uses Patriot and NASAMS missiles that are running out

The Ukrainian Armed Forces’ success in shooting down Russian aircraft is due to the use of valuable Patriot and NASAMS missiles, as well as Russian blind spots following the loss of a third of the A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft, Forbes wrote in an article.

The Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that in 10 days it had shot down 10 Russian military aircraft: nine of the best fighter-bombers of the Russian Air Force, Su-34 and Su-35, as well as a rare A-50 radar aircraft, a long-range reconnaissance aircraft.

The publication notes that the Russians are losing planes 20 times faster than they can replace them, as the Russian aerospace industry, despite the sanctions, is trying to produce more than a few dozen new combat aircraft a year.

Forbes states that it is unclear how the Ukrainians manage to shoot down so many Russian planes.

The author suggests that the Ukrainian air force has allocated some Patriot systems to mobile air defense groups that move quickly near the front line, ambushing Russian aircraft with 145 km range PAC-2 missiles, and then quickly redeploy to avoid counterattacks.

But the distance from which the Ukrainians shot down the A-50 on Friday—almost 200 kilometers—suggests that a longer-range missile system was involved. Perhaps it was an S-200 that the Ukrainians took out of long-term storage.

At the same time, the author is sure that the Ukrainians have moved some of their two dozen batteries of NASAMS MANPADS with a range of 40 km closer to the front line. As a result, on Monday, the Russians discovered and destroyed a NASAMS missile launcher near Zaporizhzhia for the first time.

Ukraine may have deployed all of the above systems and others at once to create a “hot lane,” but in this case, Ukraine will soon run out of missiles for Patriot and NASAMS, as the United States has not provided Ukraine with ammunition since the end of December 2023, Forbes writes.

The author does not exclude the fact that Russian troops’ actions have also contributed to a sharp increase in Russian aviation losses, as the Russian air force is flying more missions closer to the front line, suppressing Ukrainian troops in order to advance its ground forces.

As explained by the Ukrainian Center for Defense Strategies, “the enemy has overcome the fear of using aviation directly over the battlefield, and although this leads to the loss of aircraft, its ground troops gain a significant advantage in firepower.”

The surge in Russian attack sorties has given Ukrainian air defenders more targets, so they are shooting down more Russian aircraft.

Russian pilots increasingly struggle to detect Ukrainian missile launches, aiding Ukrainian efforts.

The Russian air force once relied on nine A-50 radar aircraft, organized into three “orbits” of three aircraft each in the south, east, and north, to extend sensor coverage across Ukraine.

By damaging one A-50 with a drone strike last year and shooting down two more A-50s this year, the Ukrainians have eliminated a third of their sensor coverage and created blind spots where Russian pilots have difficulty detecting incoming missiles.

According to reports, the Ukrainian air force is eager to use the latest Patriot and NASAMS missiles to deplete the Russian air force and prevent future bombing surges.

The Russian air force aims to bomb more Ukrainian garrisons and assist Russian ground forces in establishing a foothold before Su squadrons face depletion due to a shortage of aircraft and experienced crews.

US assistance, which the US House of Representatives must approve, is seen by the author as the way out of the impasse. The U.S. Senate has already approved $60 billion in new aid to Ukraine to repel Russian military aggression.

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