Ukraine's air defense under pressure | War in Ukraine
The United States has delivered several missile systems to the Ukrainian forces, including the HIMARS system.
Air defense plays a vital, and highly effective, role in Ukraine's response to the Russian invasion, but it is under strain from the military. #x27;Moscow strikes intensified.
In difficulty on the ground, Russia has been increasing its bombardments on Ukrainian energy infrastructure since October, a rain of strikes particularly heavy this week.
If the Ukrainian defense has so far prevented Moscow to take control of the airspace, kyiv's allies are aware that it will have to be strengthened to withstand this deluge of fire.
While they offer to send both modern and old weapons, stressing that they will not be immediately available, Ukraine judges that it is time to deliver them sophisticated Patriot-style batteries.
Ukraine continues to fight and its air defense capabilities will be key to winning, acknowledged US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley on Wednesday.
An integrated air and missile defense system will be needed to repel Russian air attacks, he added, noting that Tuesday's strikes were likely the heaviest salvo since the start of the war.
The Pentagon recorded 111 Russian missile launches and 26 suicide drones that day.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Kyiv's air defense relied heavily on Soviet aircraft and anti-missile systems, which were used effectively to prevent Moscow from controlling the airspace.
This response has affected just about every aspect of Russian air power, says Karl Mueller, a security and military specialist at the Rand Corporation.
According to him, Ukrainian long- and medium-range systems forced Russian aircraft to draw on limited missile stocks, since they had to fire from afar in order not to not be destroyed.
And the short-range systems really limited the Russians' ability to use their attack helicopters and bomber planes on the battlefield, the analyst continues.
For him, several factors explain Ukraine's success, including the fact that the country had a lot of surface-to-air missile systems that were well used. Its defenses were also highly mobile, allowing them to be dispersed to evade Russian strikes.
Finally, the Russian air force is not very good at attacking anti-aircraft defenses, not having, unlike the United States, specialized units to fulfill this mission, adds Mueller.
Since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense has been enriched with sophisticated systems, such as those of the NASAMS type supplied by the United States or Iris-T from ;Germany, and older systems like the S-300 and Hawk.
But kyiv and its allies are convinced that more needs to be done.
At a meeting on Wednesday, the international coalition reflected, according to General Milley, how to provide the right combination of anti-aircraft systems and munitions for Ukraine to retain control of the skies.
kyiv forces are already successful in bringing down Russian missiles and drones, with 102 targets destroyed since Nov. 11, according to the Ukrainian military.
But no air defense system is capable of blocking all attacks, as Tuesday's airstrikes reminded us that left millions of Ukrainians without electricity at the time of the first snowfalls.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba therefore said he was convinced that the time of the Patriots had arrived, in a message on Twitter on Thursday. Earlier in the week, it requested F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.
Washington is reluctant to provide Ukraine with these long-range batteries or weapons. #x27;planes for fear that it will be perceived as an escalation by Moscow.
But in the long term, Ukrainians will need planes made in the West, believes Mr. Mueller. Faced with the resurgence of Russian strikes, strengthening the Ukrainian defense is undoubtedly a priority to allow them to survive.
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