Ukraine outlines reasons for high aircraft loss rate

BLACKEAGLE

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A lack of experience and training, as well as poor tactics and intelligence not being acted on are the primary reasons for losses being incurred by the Ukrainian Air Force in the restive east of the country, a senior service official noted on 19 November.

Speaking under the Chatham House Rule at the IQPC Fighter Conference in London, the officer said that these are the main factors behind the loss of 10 helicopters, nine combat aircraft, and three airlifters lost to separatist air defences to date.

"In total, we have lost five Mi-8 ['Hip'] and five Mi-24 ['Hind'] helicopters; six Su-25 ['Frogfoot'], one Su-24 ['Fencer'], and two MiG-29 ['Fulcrum'] fighters; as well as one An-26 ['Curl'], one An-30 ['Clank'], and one Il-76 ['Candid'] transport aircraft. In my personal view, the reasons [behind these losses] are that in 23 years since independence we have never had to use our aircraft or pilots in combat before, and so there is no experience; we have not given enough money to training; our tactics have not always been the right ones; and intelligence of man-portable air defence systems [MANPADS] has not always been acted on," he said.

According to the official, some of these MANPADS have come from Ukrainian military bases and government facilities that fell into separatist and Russian hands with the annexation of Crimea in March, some were captured from Ukrainian forces in the east of the country, and some have come directly from Russia. "The last Russian 'humanitarian convoy' that came into Ukraine carried approximately 5% of food and water, and the rest was military equipment such as shells, mines, and MANPADS," he said, adding: "We believe there are approximately 20 air defence batteries being used by the rebels now."

On the subject of aircraft shootdowns, the official reiterated Ukraine's belief that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down by a Buk (SA-11 'Gadfly') surface-to-air missile, as opposed to Russia's assertion that it was shot down by a Ukrainian Air Force jet. "The Buk is very technological, and there is no possibility to teach a person how to use it in one month. We believe it was sent from Russia to Ukraine, and guided by a Russian team."

As the official noted, the air force's mission has changed since the crisis with Russia began in Crimea at the beginning of the year, from reconnaissance, transport, and medical evacuation, to ground attack and combat search and rescue. "The first use of the Su-27 ['Flanker'] armament was on 15 April to protect Kramatorsk airport [in eastern Ukraine]."

As evidenced by the high loss rate, Ukraine's ageing inventory is struggling in the current combat conditions. "Our Su-27s, Su-24s, Su-25s, MiG-29s, and L-39s were built mostly in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They are inferior in combat [to more modern types], and their physical condition is obsolete," the official noted.

While this fleet could probably be maintained in an airworthy condition for about another 10 years (with Ukrainian electronic and system upgrades), the official said, the air force is looking at a medium- to long-term replacement.

The types being considered are the Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Saab Gripen E/F, and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. "We are looking at [acquiring] these aircraft from about 2020 to 2030," he said, adding that Ukraine is looking at options for fielding an unmanned combat air vehicle also.

Ukraine outlines reasons for high aircraft loss rate - IHS Jane's 360
 

KSA

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There must be snitches inside the Ukrainian Army. Ukraine should hire mercenaries to take the vital jobs otherwise they will keep losing.
 
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