According to intelligence provided by the Ukrainian Air Force, Russia is targeting Ukraine more frequently with guided bombs. Up to 20 guided bomb hits per day have been recorded along the whole front line in recent weeks, compared to the Russian air force’s previous infrequent deployment of such weapons.
According to Ukrainian authorities, the southern city of Kherson and the areas of the nation that border Belarus and Russia are particularly hard hit. According to Yuri Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, “The Russians are dropping more and more of these bombs because they are running out of missiles, very few are left, so they have switched to cheap aerial bombs.”
Russian forces might be “changing aviation tactics to mitigate the risk of further aviation losses by operating out of the range of most Ukrainian anti-aircraft and air defence systems, at the cost of the ability to conduct close air support,” according to a recent assessment by the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Guided bombs, as opposed to basic bombs, contain tiny wings and tail surfaces that enable glide flight. The bombs can impact targets far away from where they are dropped, which on the one hand makes accurate targeting possible.
According to military analysts from Ukraine, Russia presently has two different types of guided bombs. Although they have had the contemporary, satellite-guided UPAB-1500B for only a short time, specialists informed DW that due to their extraordinarily expensive production costs, such bombs are only occasionally utilised.
The majority of the bombs the Russian army employs in Ukraine are unguided, 500 (1,100lb), 1,000, or 1,500 kilogramme bombs from the Soviet era. The satellite control system and wings on the high-explosive FAB-type bombs enhance them to a high-precision weapon. The Ukrainian Defence Express trade journal’s editor-in-chief, Oleh Katkov, claims that the conversion is quick and inexpensive.
Oleksandr Kovalenko, a military analyst at the Centre for Military and Political Research in Ukraine, affirms that it is possible to create such modules for these bombs fast. Many of them are still in stock. Despite the fact that these guided bombs are a far cry from modern technology, Russia can continue to target Ukraine with them for a very long time, he continued.
A month after the massive assault started, Russia stopped flying over areas in Ukrainian control, according to Yuri Ihnat. However, they can bomb Ukrainian territory from their own airspace or from the airspace of Russian-occupied territories thanks to the glide bombs’ range. Ihnat asserts that Russian planes are capable of dropping these guided bombs 50 to 70 kilometres (31–43 miles) into area that is under Ukrainian control, adding that the range is based on the aircraft’s height and speed. “They don’t fly close to the border itself because they know they can be shot down — the higher an aircraft climbs, the better it is detected by our radar stations,” a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said.
Even though they are barely capable of stopping aerial bombs, Ukraine presently defends itself with Soviet anti-aircraft missile systems. Ihnat explains that “usually doesn’t work with a bomb,” adding that “the anti-aircraft missile does not hit the object itself, but explodes next to it and pierces it with splinters.” He contends that Ukraine needs cutting-edge air defence systems like the Patriot, which has just arrived from the US, the Netherlands, and Germany, to eliminate guided bombs.
But according to experts, there aren’t enough air defence systems to protect both the borders with Russia and Belarus and the entire front line. Additionally, they contend that placing children close to the front line is dangerous. According to writer Oleh Katkov, Russian troops will attempt to destroy the Patriot systems, even if it’s only for show. According to him, the Russians would even be prepared to give up fighter jets in order to severely harm Ukraine.
Kovalenko asserts that fighter jets are the most effective means by which Ukraine can defend itself against guided bombs. “Bombs are very difficult to hit, and the Russian aircraft are much easier to destroy than the carrier itself.”
However, Ukraine lacks air-to-air missiles with the necessary range to engage aircraft flying over Russian-controlled territory. Additionally, according to Kovalenko, Western air-to-air missiles, such as those Slovakia just gave to Ukraine and Poland has yet to provide, are incompatible with aircraft made by the Soviet Union.