As the majority of Russian cutting-edge missiles and drones fired on Ukraine ended up being intercepted, there are reports that Moscow has resumed the use of UMPC-kit bombs to inflict maximum damage to the targets that have already been identified by the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS).
Hundreds of Russian missiles and drones struck the capital, Kyiv, and Kharkiv on January 2. Russia also reportedly fired a volley of its hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, all of which were claimed to have been intercepted and shot down by Ukrainian AD systems.
Now, Russian bombers have resurfaced with another ‘bombshell’ in their arsenal.
One day after a massive missile attack that claimed the lives of several civilians in Kyiv, there were reports that Russia’s Bomber Aviation launched strikes against twenty Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) strongholds and one command and observation post using the UMPK-500 universal planning and correction modules.
On January 4, citing the RuMoD, the state news agency RIA Novosti also reported that the Russian Su-34 fighter bomber, with the help of an air bomb with a Universal Planning and Correction Module (UPMC), destroyed a Ukrainian Command and Control center. The report did not specify the bomb. However, the VKS has been firing the FAB-250, FAB-500, and even the FAB-1500 with UMPC modules since last year.
The ministry explained that the Su-34, which took off along with the Su-35 to carry out the assigned bombing run, was equipped with high-explosive bombs with a UMPC to allow the aircraft to carry out accurate blows without entering the enemy’s air defense zone.
A video was also subsequently published by the RuMoD that showed the process of placing air bombs beneath the wings of fighter bombers before they take off. The video also showed the flight of the aircraft over the clouds. Lastly, the footage captured the moment when the bomb separated from the pylon and dropped on the designated target.
“We’re back from the combat mission. We got the task before departure. At the appointed time, they took off as part of the aviation link and worked on the enemy. According to the objective control data, the target was destroyed. We came back normally. The task was completed successfully,” said Innokenty, the senior pilot of the aviation squadron on Su-34 aircraft.
As soon as the news of the redeployment of the UPMC-500 bombs was published, military watchers observed that the reintroduction of the bomb against Ukraine indicated the helplessness faced by Russian forces with all their other cruise and ballistic missiles, hypersonic missile Kinzhal, along with their drones being intercepted by the western air defense systems deployed by Ukraine.
Russian Su-34 Attacking From 30,000 Ft, Says Expert
Military analysts suggested that the use of UMPC-500 is aimed at bypassing the Ukrainian air defense network. An avid Russian military watcher and Indian Air Force veteran, Vijainder K. Thakur also made a very intriguing observation based on the video released by the MoD.
Thakur said, “Going by the perspective from the cockpit, I would estimate the height of the Su-34 releasing the UMPK-500 to be around 30,000 ft, in which case RuAF is now dropping the bombs from a greater height than before?”
Going by the perspective from the cockpit, I would estimate the height of the Su-34 releasing the UMPK-500 to be around 30,000 ft, in which case RuAF is now dropping the bombs from a greater height than before? pic.twitter.com/0bMWoB0bi1
— Vijainder K Thakur (@vkthakur) January 4, 2024
On being asked if it was sustainable for the Su-34 Fullback bomber aircraft to fly at that altitude, Thakur said, “While the Su-34 is capable of flying at 30,000 ft, doing so with a heavy weapon load reduces the maneuverability of the aircraft. Reduced maneuverability is acceptable in the situation because the aircraft remains well out of adversary AD range.”
Elaborating on how it works, he added, “By releasing bombs kitted with a glide and guidance (UMPC) kit, the stand-off range would be greater, allowing the aircraft to stay even further from Ukrainian AD.”
EurAsian Times had previously reported on how the MiG-31 Foxhound of the VKS was used to carry out the shootdown of the Ukrainian aircraft by making use of its capability to carry out attacks from very high altitudes. However, the Su-34 dropping UPMC may be intriguing. The Su-34 has also been modified to carry the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.
As for this latest mission, the RIA report noted that before the flight, the crew received the coordinates of the location of the enemy command post. A squad of Su-34 bombers, accompanied by a Su-35s fighter, took off from the base airfield.
As emphasized in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, after completing the combat mission, the whole group successfully returned to the airfield, and the reconnaissance reported that the target was successfully hit. These claims could not be independently verified by EurAsian Times.
Last year, Russia introduced the gliding and automatic guidance kit on many of its drop bombs, especially the FAB-500M52, which increases the bombs’ range and makes them immune to many air defense systems.
The Russian MoD previously released four videos showing the Su-34 in action, hinting at the deployment of UPMC bomb kits. At the time, the Fullbacks flew low-altitude sorties, between 1,000 and 3,000 feet, indicating that the area was not lined with Soviet or Western-origin air defense systems.
A video from December 15 showed a Su-34 being loaded with UMPC-enabled FAB bombs on both the wing pylons. It appears that the one on the right wing gets released. Several military analysts and journalists actively covering the war have noted that these bombs scare the Ukrainians away and push them away from the frontlines.
Videos from December 15, December 11, and December 7, showed FAB bombs installed with UMPC glide kits dropped from Su-34 fighter bombers on Ukrainian positions. pic.twitter.com/Coc71McmC6
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) December 17, 2023
RIA Novosti had also quoted military expert Alexey Leonkov, who said the use of the FAB-500 bomb with the UMPC kit along the entire frontline had “become a serious problem for the AFU.”
Russia has been using the FAB-250, FAB-500, and FAB-1500 bombs against Ukraine for several months now. The recent report did not indicate which kit bomb was used.