Russia Likely Losing Aircraft Faster Than It Can Replace Them—U.K.


Russian MiG-29 jet fighters of the Strizhi (Swifts) and Su-30SM jet fighters of the Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) aerobatic teams fly in formation over the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow on May 7, 2021, during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade. British intelligence said Monday that Russia was likely losing aircraft faster that it could replace them in the Ukraine war.ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/GETTY

In the Ukraine war, Russia has been losing aircraft faster than it can replace them due to poor training of air forces, the U.K. Defense Ministry has said.

In its daily intelligence update on the Ukraine war on Monday, the ministry noted that on November 3, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said Russia had lost over twice the number of aircraft in Ukraine than it had in the nine-year Soviet-Afghan War—278 aircraft lost in Ukraine compared to 119 in Afghanistan.

“Whilst we cannot independently verify these figures, Russia’s continued lack of air superiority is likely exacerbated by poor training, loss of experienced crews, and heightened risks of conducting close air support in dense air defence zones,” said the U.K. Defense Ministry.

“This is unlikely to change in the next few months. Russia’s aircraft losses likely significantly outstrip their capacity to manufacture new airframes. The time required for the training of competent pilots further reduces Russia’s ability to regenerate combat air capability.”

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry tweeted on Sunday that between February 24 and November 6, Russia had lost 277 military jets and 1,465 drones. It added that around 75,930 Russian military personnel had died in the fighting, while 2,625 tanks and 5,611 armored combat vehicles had been destroyed or seized.

In September, Russia said that nearly 6,000 of its troops had died in the Ukraine war. That same month, the U.K. estimated this number to be 25,000 but that figure rose to 80,000 when it included wounded troops and military captured by Ukraine.

Since Russian invaded its neighbor on February 24, it has made some progress and the east and the south of the country but has suffered recent setbacks from Ukrainian counteroffensives in occupied territories of Kherson in the south and Kharkiv in the east. These territories were taken by Russia from Ukraine in the early days of the war. The West, including the U.S., U.K. and the EU, have been supplying Ukraine with weapons that have proved to be very effective during the war.

Over the last month, Russia has been conducting air strikes on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, leaving more than 4.5 million Ukrainians without electricity, many of them in the Kyiv region, said President Volodymyr Zelensky in a televised address on Thursday night. That amounts to more than 10 percent of Ukraine’s pre-war population. Zelensky added that the Russian onslaught had “seriously damaged” around 40 percent of Ukraine’s entire energy infrastructure.

On Sunday, the U.K. Defense Ministry said that Russia was firing military commanders to deflect blame for failures in Ukraine from the country’s leadership. The ministry noted that in late October, Colonel General Alexander Lapin had reportedly been fired from his role as commander of Russia’s Central Military District, which had been “widely criticized for poor performance on the battlefield.” The Russian state news agency Tass later confirmed Lapin was no longer in his post, per The New York Times.

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Ministry of Defense for comment.


  1. “This is unlikely to change in the next few months.”

    What will happen in the next few months to change this situation? To make tangible changes in an air force takes years. Unless they want to stick some of those recruits into the cockpits. Then, there would be no need for UA forces to defend the airspace anymore. The problem will solve itself.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Although rashist are sending a couple newer aircraft which are a threat, they have limited number will be unable to apples to apples replace them anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those newer aircraft won’t make a difference. They are too few, as you said, and they have a great fear to lose any, so they will see limited use.

      Liked by 1 person

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