Ukraine shot down a Russian Su-34, setting up a series of downing 14 aircraft in 13 days 0Ukraine shot down a Russian Su-34, setting up a series of downing 14 aircraft in 13 days 0

(Dan Tri) – Ukraine said its air defense downed another Russian Su-34 aircraft on March 2, the 11th aircraft that Kiev claimed to have shot down in just the past 2 weeks, in addition to two Sukhoi Su-34 aircraft.

A Su-34 of the Russian Air Force (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

`The Ukrainian Air Force shot down another Su-34 in the east,` the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense wrote on social network X.

The unprecedented string of aircraft shoot-downs that Ukraine claims to have carried out – 14 aircraft in 13 days – may speak to the effectiveness of Ukraine’s air defense, but also shows that Russia is carrying out more bombing missions than ever.

On February 29 alone, the Russian Air Force organized more than 150 missions with the participation of Su-34, Su-35 and Su-25 attack aircraft, according to Ukrainian analyst Alexander Kovalenko.

That number is 10 more missions than the number of missions the Russian Air Force performed each day during the previous most intense air strikes, when Russian troops advanced toward Kiev in the first weeks of fighting.

`Such flight intensity of Russian aircraft allows us to catch up with them more often,` Mr. Kovalenko wrote.

According to Forbes, a typical Russian attack formation usually includes two Su-34s, each carrying four KAB GPS-guided glide bombs, along with an escort Su-35 carrying air-to-air missiles.

The Su-34 can drop KAB bombs – bombs that can weigh 500kg and 1.5 tons, and are equipped with satellite navigation and glide wings – with relative accuracy at targets at a distance of 40km.

This distance can help Sukhoi stay out of range of light air defense weapons, but still within the range of heavy air defense weapons such as the US-made Patriot and the Soviet-era S-200.

Each KAB also contains enough explosives to destroy a bunker or flatten a building.

The battle for Avdiivka ended with Ukraine having to retreat two weeks ago, after Russian Sukhoi aircraft dropped hundreds of KAB bombs on Avdiivka, blocking the supply lines of the defending forces.

According to Forbes writer David Ax, the Avdiivka campaign helped Russia learn the tactic of using strong air power to support ground forces in dominant attacks.

The Russian side is trying to occupy the village of Tonen’ke, 9km west of Avdiikva, also by throwing up to 30 KAB shells per day, according to Forbes.

According to Mr. Ax, this tactic of the Russian air force is not sustainable in the long term due to the high level of attrition.

`I am quite optimistic about Ukraine’s potential in 2025 when Russia is constantly launching attacks and losing a lot of people,` said Max Bergmann, Russia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But Mr. Bergmann based his assessment on an assumption: The US will maintain long-term military aid to Ukraine.

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