Russian guided weapons miss the mark

On Monday morning, as columns of armored vehicles and soldiers paraded through Moscow to celebrate Russia’s victory over Germany in World War II in 1945, one element of Russia’s military might was missing: its fighter jets.

And while officials attributed their grounding to bad weather, Russian aircraft, pilots and air-to-ground weapons have performed very inferior in the war against Ukraine.

The absence underlined the president’s failure Vladimir Putin to build a capable modern air force, as Russian aircrews fly in and out of Ukrainian airspace and drop unguided bombs while fleeing from enemy surface-to-air missiles that Moscow has yet to destroy, even after 75 days of fighting.

Russian infantry fighting vehicles on Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Monday. Photo Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

Russian fighter jets generally perform between 200 and 300 departures each day a senior Defense Department official told reporters during a briefing on Monday, but they have failed to establish air superiority over Ukraine, which continues to fly its own fighters and attack planes against Russian troops.

And as the war enters its third month, Russia has already spent many of its weapons. more accurate such as cruise missiles and short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

On May 2, the Pentagon said that Russia had fired more than 2125 of those guns since the invasion began.

Their use fell sharply after the second week of the war, Britain’s Defense Minister Ben Wallace said in a speech on Monday.

The Russians “have blown up” many of their precision-guided munitions, said the senior US official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about details of Russia’s shortcomings.

“In fact, they continue to hit Mariupol with a lot of dumb bombs.”

So-called dumb, or unguided, air-dropped munitions are pre-9/11 relics for the US and NATO, as the Western military has now almost completely converted its stockpiles with pump guide kits towards their targets with lasers or GPS satellite signals.

The official also said that sanctions and export controls put in place after Russia invaded Ukraine had limited access from Moscow to the types of electronic components it needed to build guided weapons, which affected Putin’s ability to restock your army with modern aerial ammunition.

Russia’s lack of guided weapons, and their often poor accuracy when used, offers further indication of how far behind Moscow’s armed forces are compared to Western armies.

Senior US Department of Defense officials who spoke with The New York Times in the background to discuss intelligence assessments and their analysis of Russia’s failures in Ukraine said evidence seen during the invasion pointed to a Russian guided weapons program still in its infancy, with pilots unable to quickly locate and engage targets. on the ground, and missiles launched at Ukraine that often miss their targets, if they work at all.

The Soviet Union was relatively uninterested in developing conventional guided weapons until the mid-1980s, the officials said, and had engaged in serious research and development only in the past two decades.

Russia demonstrated some of its new arsenal in airstrikes in Syria beginning in 2015, though only in limited numbers during tightly controlled operations and under extremely favorable conditions.

Instead of being able to quickly target Ukrainian troops and moving vehicles with satellite or laser-guided bombs, Russia has largely shown that it can only hit stationary targets like military buildings or civilian population centers, either by firing volleys of projectiles. by unguided artillery or rocket attacks on them, US officials said, or by using large guided ballistic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles that often miss or are inaccurate.

Russian fighter jets continue to rely on unguided bombs that are rudimentary, even compared to those the United States built in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

While the standard US series of Mark-80 bombs used by NATO can be easily reconfigured for different missions and have a forged steel body, the Russian counterpart is welded.

A senior intelligence official said the Russian design favors cheap mass production on precision and requires much less pre-flight assembly, making those bombs a more attractive option for use by Russian forces comparatively. no training.

The guided munitions Russia has been using are limited to Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles deployed from Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers flying in Russian and Belarusian airspace;

ground-launched short- and medium-range ballistic missiles such as Tochka and Iskander; and a small number of Kalibr cruise missiles fired from warships at sea, an official said.

Many of those missiles were launched only in the last 10 years, according to a Defense Intelligence Agency report.

By comparison, the Pentagon was testing its first widely deployed cruise missile, called the Tomahawk, in the late 1970s.

Russia’s reliance on unguided bombs for its warplanes over Ukrainian airspace has caused confusion among government and civilian weapons analysts alike since the invasion began on February 24, given that just three years ago Russia proved that it did have laser guided weapons and by satellite that it used to attack hospitals in Syria.

However, the difference between Russia’s airstrikes in Syria and Ukraine is huge, a senior Defense Department analyst has said.

In Syria, Russian warplanes could fly unopposed and hover over their targets for as long as they wanted before dropping a guided bomb, something that Ukrainian planes and surface-to-air missiles make impossible.

Defense Department officials also say Russia’s targeting problem has been exacerbated by the lack of investment Suitable for surveillance drones.

Only two unarmed Russian models, the Forpost and the Orlan, have been observed, while Ukraine has been targeting Russian troops and vehicles with TB2 drone-fired missiles purchased from Turkey.

The problem, US officials said, has also been revealed to be one of scale:

Russia has been unable to use the handful of guided bombs it used in parts of Syria to support the needs of a massive ground campaign in a country as large as Ukraine.

And furthermore, Russian cruise missiles fired at targets in Ukraine sometimes they failed in their objectives or even failed completely after launch, US officials said.

They added that Russian war planners most likely failed to adequately develop the so-called goal packs a series of instructions that are entered into cruise missiles before flight that include instructions on course headings and altitudes that will deliver the weapon to its intended destination, to them.

“Syria provided an opportunity to test in a real-world operational situation many of these new systems that the Russians have been developing for quite some time,” a Defense Department official said in an interview.

“But they were not pressured to do something to scale So when you try to scale that up for something like Ukraine, you’re really stressing the system and you might highlight some issues there.”

c.2022 The New York Times Company

By Editor

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