Three reasons Russia is not using its strategic bombers in ongoing Russia-Ukraine war

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More than half a year has passed since the war officially broke out on February 24, and so far the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has gone through three phases in more than half a year. Both sides fell into a medium-term lull in attrition, after which Ukrainian forces launched counterattacks in several directions.

The Ukrainian army’s counter-offensive in recent days has made netizens refocus their attention on this conflict, and at the same time, a question has once again been put in front of them: air-to-ground strikes in modern land wars are particularly important, and even the most powerful army cannot withstand high-intensity air strikes, but so far Russian strategic bombers have rarely appeared.

Russia’s Long-Range Aviation branch, responsible for its three bomber types — the Tu-22M3 Backfire-C, Tu-95MS Bear-H, and Tu-160 Blackjack — attacks infrastructure in the central and western parts of Ukraine, including military equipment production and repair plants, strategic fuel supplies, airfields, railway facilities, etc. Russia is trying to prevent the supply of military equipment from Western countries, as well as sever the routes used for transporting equipment and materiel for Ukrainian troops fighting in the east of the country.

But the effectiveness of these measures has been very limited, so far. The problem for the Russians is that their long-range cruise missiles can only be used against large stationary targets with known coordinates, severely limiting their ability to interdict weapons shipments and prosecute many other target types. Aerial intelligence gathering that is critical to such operations is largely nonexistent in the western half of Ukraine, as well.

Three strategic bombers in active service in the Russian Air Force

According to the data as of the end of 2021, the Russian Air Force has 3 models of 123 strategic bombers, of which 15 Tu-160 active, 66 Tu-22M3 active, Tu-95M active 42, the number of strategic bombers is only 18 less than the US Air Force, and it is also one of the two countries in the world that currently have strategic bombers. A strategic-level, all-out air-ground attack can be launched in a large-scale local conflict.

The Tu-160 strategic bomber can carry up to 45 tons, basically four times more than a heavy fighter. Strategic bombers also have a longer range and better missile launch capabilities that fighters do not, such as the KH-101 Long-range cruise missile, even the Su-34 heavy fighter-bomber cannot carry this missile, but the internal bomb bay of the Tu-160 strategic bomber can carry 12 at a time, the other two Tu-22M3 and The Tu-95M can also carry long-range cruise missiles. The Russian Army’s 123 strategic bombers could also carry out high-intensity, long-range precision air-to-ground attacks, even if one-fifth of them were deployed to the battlefield every day, but so far Russia The number of strategic bombers in Bombers has taken part in countless battles, and with a bomber fleet this big, why not move?

Are Russian strategic bombers reluctant to use them, or do they dare not use them? In fact, these two factors have, first of all, do not want to use this factor, the first is the cost of a strategic bomber, the cost of a strategic bomber is very expensive, the cost of a Tu-160 flight hour is more than 60,000 US dollars, even if the Tu-95M and Tu-22M3 flight costs per hour are also as high as tens of thousands of US dollars, strategic bombers fan a wing of course will bring great deterrence, but the cost consumption is also quite large. Of course, in the outbreak of war, you can’t think about price but the only necessary thing is winning, the maximum critical issue is to make sure the victory of the war, with in the face of this, any price may be accepted, however this brings the second one problem: at present, the Russian army makes use of strategic bombers to release long-variety cruise missiles such tactical actions, with land-primarily based totally cruise missiles and ship-primarily based totally long-variety cruise missiles can do, and the price of the latter fight strategies is glaringly a good deal decrease than the strategic bombers, so the Russian navy did now no longer ship a massive variety of strategic bombers to take part with inside the war. This is a attention of saving fight expenses, and it may additionally be understood as “reluctance” to apply.

The second factor, i.e. don’t you dare use it! There are factors here too. The reason is that the Russian military does not have full air supremacy. Before the war, the Ukrainian Air Force had fewer than 200 fighters, but some of them continue to participate in the fighting to this day, and even the Ukrainian Air Force has sent MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters to counter it equipped with AAM and Anti-radiation missiles. Even Tu-160, the fastest of his three Russian bombers, struggled to take out the MiG-29s carrying air-to-air missiles. Although the Tu-160 can fly at Mach 2 and above, the Ukrainian Armed Forces still have numerous ground and field air defense radars. Tu-160 has no stealth capabilities and has a very high chance of being destroyed if it participates in an airstrike. In addition, the Russian Air Force currently has only 15 Tu-160s, and one of them crashed in 2013.

The third factor is Russia and Ukraine are neighbors, and the cost of using strategic bombers to launch long-range cruise missiles far exceeds launching from land and sea, so the Russian Air Force has not used strategic bombers in large quantities for out-of-zone strikes. The risk of using strategic bombers to carry precision-guided missiles or ordinary aerial bombs to go deep into the theater of operations is very large, and it is better to use fighter-bombers such as the Su-24 and Su-34, and many factors are combined, resulting in the situation that although the Russian Air Force has 123 strategic bombers, it rarely appears to participate in the operation. In fact, if the Russian military fully grasps the air superiority, the use of strategic bombers such as the Tu-95M and Tu-160 to carry ordinary aerial bombs to carry out ground strikes will also achieve good results, a Tu-160 can carry hundreds of aerial bombs at a time, but the key to the problem is that the Russian military does not fully grasp the air superiority.

The control of air supremacy does not necessarily require the entire destruction of the opposing fighter or anti-aircraft missile, the destruction of a part of the main equipment, and rest of equipped can be destroyed by using air force with the help of electronic warfare. In the Kosovo War in 1999, the NATO coalition led by the United States carried out a comprehensive electromagnetic suppression, the fighters of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Air Force immediately failed after taking off, and they were unable to fight at all, and the surface-to-air missiles of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia air defense forces were also difficult to find air targets, so NATO fighters and bombers could bomb in the air without scruples.

Earlier many times Russia claimed that they have the best EW system but At present, the Russian army failed to show its EW capabilities, not only led to the Ukrainian army’s fighters and air defense systems still operating effectively, and even many times dispatched drones to the Crimean Peninsula Black Sea Fleet Headquarters to launch air strikes if the Russian army fully grasps the electromagnetic power, the Ukrainian army’s civilian drones can not fly to the Crimean Peninsula at all

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