In Ukraine, the Russian Air Force is gradually self

The conflict in Ukraine is undoubtedly an easily quantifiable disaster for Russia. The specialized site Oryx thus holds a precise and documented list of material losses both camps, and the numbers are enough to make you dizzy.

Since the start of the invasion 11 months ago, Moscow has already lost more than 8,500 pieces of equipment, including 1,600 tanks destroyed or put out of action, several thousand armored vehicles of various types or hundreds of pieces of ‘artillery.

If the site does not deal with the human losses, which have now exceeded the frightening figure of 100,000 men killed or injured, it also notes the number of aircraft lost by the VKS, russian air force.

Here too, Moscow is paying the high price for its aims on Ukraine: sixty-seven planes were reportedly hit and sixty-three shot down, including twenty-four of the widely used Su-25 “Frogfoot” or seventeen of the most modern and expensive Su-34 “Fullback”.

Despite an undeniable superiority in numbers, this inability to seize the Ukrainian skies is due both to material questions and to a totally unsuitable doctrine. These initial problems were greatly amplified by the massive delivery to Ukraine multiple anti-aircraft defense systems by its Western allieswith a protection objective reaffirmed by Volodymyr Zelensky during his recent New Year’s speech.

But a recent report by the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank whose work Business Insider reported on, points to other worries and bad choices for the Russian air force. Concerns that like this expensive ground warcould very permanently erode its global power against the rest of the world.

According to the RUSI, even before the general conflict began in February 2021, the VKS thus underestimated the detection and destruction systems of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses, then outnumbered but whose tenacity, tactics and courage have yet very quickly caused many losses on the Russian side.

Reporting on Ukrainian calculations, the think tank explains that the Russian Air Force only entered the conflict with a hundred truly combat-trained pilots, a figure that seems ridiculously low and due to a lack of training and hours of combat. Moscow quickly realized the mistake, and sought to extract veterans from their pensions to beef up its air force.


But the damage was done, and it is likely to continue for years to come, because the Kremlin has also resolved to send to the front – and generally on the most dangerous missions – experienced instructors drawn from the schools in which they operated.

“The mobilization of instructors from flight schools to the front hampers the ability to generate new pilots”notes the RUSI report. “The Ukrainian military has noted a larger presence of very young or very old pilots in the Russian Air Force, with experienced pilots being sent back to the front.”

Business Insider notes that this pitfall is not unknown to historians. During the Second World War, the Luftwaffe made exactly the same mistake: sending more and more instructors on deadly missions, thus preventing the proper training and solid training of young pilots who, with the advance of the war , caused the once formidable Nazi air forces to lose quality and efficiency. Good aircraft but inexperienced pilots without mentors do not make a good air force.

It is therefore here again in the long term that the Kremlin begins its own military power, which its rivals as well as its allies will no doubt not fail to note. for other potential conflicts to come.

The RUSI also notes and elsewhere that serious problems of discipline and organization have cost the Russian air force dearly. The atavistic tendency of Kremlin forces to store fuel and ammunition near aircraft created particularly explosive targets for distant Ukrainian attacks –the Voronezh base could be the latest casualty.

The fact of regularly forgetting to remove the caches on the sensors of the planes sent to the battle, it seems a classic according to the RUSI, is also not ideal to be able to imagine winning. But is the latter no longer already, for Vladimir Putin and his followers, just a distant chimera?

In Ukraine, the Russian Air Force is gradually self-destructing (and for a long time)