Russians Rue ‘Limited’ Impact of Costly Mass Assault on Ukraine Airfield


Ukrainian Su-27 fighters escort an Su-24 frontline bomber during air force exercises at the Starokostiantyniv military air base on October 12, 2018. Pro-Kremlin sources have criticized the cost of a recent missile barrage targeting Ukrainian bases.GENYA SAVILOV/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Pro-Kremlin sources have criticized the cost and effectiveness of a missile barrage over the weekend that targeted Ukrainian bases thought to house Kyiv’s Su-24 bombers and Western-provided long-range missiles.

On Sunday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces had used long-range air and sea-launched weapons against multiple Ukrainian air bases in western Ukraine. The strikes targeted Ukraine’s Starokostiantyniv air base in the Khmelnytsky region, and another air base close to the Ukrainian town of Dubno, in the Rivne region, the Russian government said. “All assigned objects are hit,” the ministry added in a statement.

The Ukrainian military said Moscow launched “several waves” of missile and drone strikes early on Sunday morning local time. Ukraine registered 70 strikes, and intercepted 30 cruise missiles and 27 Iranian-made Shahed drones.

It is difficult to pin down the exact cost of Russian missiles and drones. However, the Ukrainian edition of Forbes suggested each Kalibr cruise missile costs in the region of $6.5 million, but experts suggest this figure may be inflated.

For a missile like the Kalibr or Russia’s Kh-101 and Kh-555, which Ukraine said were fired over the weekend, the likely price tag is probably upwards of $1 million, and may even reach $1.7 million, said Fabian Hoffmann, a doctoral research fellow at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Estimates for the Iranian-made Shahed suicide drones vary from around $20,000 to $50,000, and “the higher value is the more likely one,” he told Newsweek.

With 70 strikes across Ukraine, Russia racked up a considerable cost in attacking Ukraine’s air bases—something pro-Kremlin Russian military bloggers noticed.

Rybar, a prominent Russian Telegram channel thought to be run by ex-Russian Defense Ministry employee Mikhail Zvinchuk, said Russia’s targets were likely to be the Su-24M aircraft equipped with the U.K.’s Storm Shadow missiles thought to be based at Starokostiantyniv.

“The damage from the impact is difficult to determine, but it is clearly of a limited nature,” the milblogger wrote. Putting the entire airfield out of working order would take a “kiloton of air bombs” or “even a nuclear charge,” Rybar said.

Another account going by the name Military Informant said satellite imagery indicated Russian strikes had landed on an aircraft hangar of “unknown purpose” on the edge of the base, and a non-operational Su-24 that was being taken apart for scraps in the center of the airfield.

The air base at Starokostiantyniv houses Ukraine’s 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade and its Su-24M bombers, according to the Kyiv Post. In remarks reported by Ukrainian media on Sunday, air force spokesperson Yuriy Ignat said this “is not the first time this airfield has been attacked,” adding: “There is a permanent base of a tactical aviation brigade there.”

He described the airfield as one “that haunts the enemy,” commenting: “From here, our pilots give a whipping to the enemy in the occupied territories.”

Moscow and Russian-backed authorities in annexed territories, such as the southern Kherson region and Crimea, which the Kremlin has controlled since 2014, have blamed the air-launched Storm Shadow missiles for Ukrainian strikes on bridges in Crimea.

Russian-linked officials said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had used 12 Storm Shadow missiles to target two bridges linking the peninsula to mainland Ukraine.

After attacks on air bases in western Ukraine, Kyiv now frequently moves its Storm Shadow and SCALP missile-enabled Su-24 jets to different airfields, and has anti-aircraft systems in place to protect its air bases, German publication Bild has reported.

One comment

  1. russian missiles are more suited to civilian targets. They fail miserably when attacking military targets.

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