Russia ‘Overwhelms’ Ukrainian Defenses With Most Complex Aerial Tactics In Southern Region – Kyiv

On October 21, Ukraine stated that Russian military units have started using ‘complex’ aerial tactics to strike targets in the southern region of Ukraine.

During an on-air statement, Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command, said that the primary focus of Russian forces has transitioned to aerial operations. 

She explained that Russian military units are utilizing an array of weaponry, including surface-to-surface missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, and precision-guided aerial munitions to target areas both along the front lines and in more distant locations.

“They are activating tactical aviation, using ground-based missile systems, and launching missiles with anti-aircraft missiles. In particular, a complex tactic of very mixed attacks was used last night.

“Almost simultaneously, tactical aviation launched both guided aerial bombs at the frontline territories and X-59 cruise missiles at deeper territories, the second echelon of preparation of our frontline territories, for example, Kryvyi Rih district and Mykolaiv Oblast, as well as attack UAVs,” Humeniuk added. 

She pointed out that the simultaneous firing of precision-guided aerial bombs and cruise missiles had not been witnessed before. Furthermore, she highlighted that Russian forces were deploying attack drones with the aim of overwhelming air defense systems.

On Oct. 20-21, Russian forces launched missiles and drones at Kryvyi Rih in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, causing damage to the region’s industrial infrastructure overnight. 

The Ukrainian spokesperson added that a rocket attack on the same day claimed one man’s life and left one woman injured. However, no casualties were reported in the subsequent incident. 

Russian forces have incorporated guided aerial bombs into their operations in the ongoing conflict near the front-line town of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast. 

However, the level of attacks has subsided, as reported by Oleksandr Shtupun, the spokesperson for the Tavria Group responsible for the southern front lines.

Nevertheless, Shtupun emphasized that this reduction in intensity does not signal a Russian abandonment of their objective to capture Avdiivka. Ukrainian forces remain under the continued pressure of defending the town.

Russia’s Improved Tactics

In the early stages of the war, the Russian Air Force incurred significant losses, with estimates indicating that, to date, they have lost approximately 84 to 130 military aircraft due to engagements with air defenses, fighter aircraft, and accidents. 

However, Russian forces have shifted their tactics and are now executing sophisticated aerial assaults in coordination with ground forces. This change in approach has decreased their equipment losses in the ongoing war.

This observation was also acknowledged by a senior US Air Force officer, Gen. James B. Hecker, the commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa.

He noted that the Russian Air Force has significantly adjusted its tactics in Ukraine and is mitigating losses by executing less impactful bombing runs. 

“When it started, they were flying right into the surface-to-air missile engagement zones of the Ukrainians,” Hecker said. “So they now don’t fly in those rings, or if they do, it is for low altitude for rapid moments, and then they go back out.” 

However, this shift in tactics comes at a cost. Gen. James B. Hecker noted that adapting to save aircraft may hinder their ability to deploy bombs and establish air superiority effectively.

File Image: SU-27

As a response to this, Western assistance to Kyiv has prioritized the replenishment and improvement of Ukraine’s air defense capabilities. 

Hecker supports this initiative, consistent with his separate role as the NATO Allied Air Commander, tasked with strengthening the alliance’s air defense capabilities.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s strikes target bases and facilities that could disrupt Russia’s capacity to launch missiles. 

This includes both bombers operating along the Russia-Ukraine border and vessels belonging to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which persist in launching Kalibr cruise missiles at targets within Ukraine. 

Despite Ukrainian drone attacks on air bases within Russia that prompted the dispersion of some Russian aircraft, these efforts have limited Moscow’s long-range strike capabilities.

Moscow has been employing a relentless barrage of missiles and drones across various regions of Ukraine to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses and hit key targets. Although Russian air operations have experienced certain losses, the Russian Air Force maintains its operational capability.