In Ukraine the Russian Air Force is gradually and for

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

The conflict in Ukraine is an easily quantifiable catastrophe for Russia. The specialized site Oryx therefore keeps an accurate and documented list of the material losses of the two camps involved in the war, and this count is enough to make one’s head spin.

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

When the website doesn’t bother to count human casualties—the staggering number of 100,000 men killed or wounded on the Russian side has been exceeded according to an American census—it notes the number of aircraft lost by the Russian Air Force (VKS). And here, too, Moscow is paying the high price for its invasion of Ukraine: 67 aircraft were hit and 63 shot down, including 24 examples of the widespread Su-25 Frogfoot and 17 of the more modern and expensive Su-34 Fullback.

Despite an undeniable numerical superiority, this inability to conquer the Ukrainian skies is due both to material issues and to a wholly inadequate doctrine. These initial problems were greatly compounded by the massive delivery of multiple air defense systems to Ukraine by its Western allies, with a protection goal reiterated by Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his New Year’s address.

But a report released Nov. 30 by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British think tank whose work Business Insider reported, points to other concerns and Russia’s poor decisions. And like expensive ground warfare, they could permanently erode the power of the Russian Air Force relative to the rest of the world.

Therefore, according to RUSI, even before the start of the conflict in February 2022, the VKS underestimated the detection and destruction systems of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses, which were then outnumbered, but whose tenacity, tactics and courage very quickly caused many losses on the Russian side .

Reporting on Ukrainian calculations, the think tank states that the Russian Air Force entered the conflict with only about 100 truly battle-hardened pilots, a number that seems ridiculously low. Moscow quickly realized the mistake and therefore tried to pull veterans out of their pensions to upgrade its air force.

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But the damage was done and will likely continue for years to come, as the Kremlin has also vowed to send experienced instructors from the schools where they taught to the front lines — and to the most dangerous missions. “The mobilization of flight school instructors hinders the ability to attract new pilots,” the RUSI report states. The Ukrainian Army 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 lines.

Business Insider notes that this trap is not unknown to historians. During World War II, the German Luftwaffe made the exact same mistake: sending more and more instructors on deadly missions, preventing proper training and solid training of young pilots. Which, as the war progressed, caused the once formidable Nazi air forces to decline in quality and efficiency. Good planes, but inexperienced pilots without mentors don’t make a good air force.

So in the long run, the Kremlin is again applying its own military power here, which its competitors will no doubt recognize as allies in further possible conflicts.

RUSI also notes that serious discipline and organizational problems have cost the Russian Air Force dearly. The Kremlin armies’ atavistic tendency to store fuel and ammunition near planes has created particularly explosive targets for distant Ukrainian attacks – the Voronezh base may be the latest casualty.

The fact of regularly forgetting to remove the caches on the sensors of the planes sent into battle – a classic, according to RUSI – is also not ideal for imagining victory. But isn’t the latter already a distant chimera for Vladimir Putin and his supporters?