Ukrainian Stinger Missiles will Attack Russian Helicopters
The invading Russian forces are “frustrated” and simply as of yet unable to make anticipated or wished-for gains on the ground against a determined Ukrainian resistance force.
Russian Long-Range Fires
As a result, attacking Russian forces are making what the Pentagon believes is a deliberate tactical shift toward the use of long-range fires, weapons such as artillery, cruise missiles and rockets.
“They continue to get frustrated, they continue to rely now more on what we would call long range fires,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters March 8, according to a DoD transcript.
The tactical shift wherein long-range, ground fired weapons were landing in cities the Russian forces have yet to identify, can easily be interpreted as a “terror” tactic killing children and non-combatants.
It would appear that the Russians are simply “unable” to make real progress in the Northern part of the country where they have been attempting to close in on Kyiv.
Over the last several weeks, Pentagon leaders have been clear that the US assessment is that these kinds of unanticipated problems are due to fuel, food and supply sources, low troop morale, ineffective combat tactics and the sheer intensity of Ukrainian forces armed with very effective anti-armor weapons.
“When you're relying more on long range fires. You're going to cause more damage, and you're going to kill more people and injure more people. And so that's what we think is happening,” Kirby added.
Multiple news reports have specified the kinds of long-range ground fire weapons being used by invading Russian forces, to include the precision-guided Kalibur missiles aimed at residential areas. A story by the Associated Press said the Russians were also firing Kalibr missiles at government buildings and military targets in Kharkiv.
As a precision-guided weapon, the Kalibr missile is entirely capable of striking targets without causing massive amounts of damage to civilians and residential areas. This technological fact which lends further evidence in support of the now widely recognized view that the Russian military is deliberately murdering children.
Video Above: Russian Attacks on Civilians in Russia-Ukraine War
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The Russians are also using a larger precision-guided weapon called Iskander, which has a larger conventional warhead than the Kalibr and travels as far as 300 miles. The Iskander can fire the much talked about and banned cluster munitions as well as high-explosive-fragmentation and earth-penetrating bunker busters, according to a write up on the weapon from Globalsecurity.org. The weapon is also reported to be nuclear capable.
A range of 300 miles of course enables the Iskander to target and attack urban areas at great standoff distances, something enabling Russian forces to bombard, shell and destroy residential areas from safer standoff distances hundreds of miles from the city of Kyiv.
Unlike their struggles in the North, Kirby specified that Russian invaders have been able to make some progress in Southern Ukraine and are now trying to “encircle Mariupol.” “Mariupol is a very violent place to be right now,” he said.
Russian Helicopter Attacks
Multiple news reports are now showing video of a Russian helicopter being hit and destroyed before crashing to the ground in Ukraine, a sign that some now fast-arriving Ukrainian air defenses are having the intended effect.
Video Above: Ukraine claims it downed Russian attack helicopter
The missile may have been a famous Stinger anti-aircraft weapon, perhaps an upgraded variant of the weapon made famous for its role attacking Russian helicopters in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Thousands of anti-armor weapons are pouring into Ukraine from more than 14 country’s, according to the Pentagon, yet more intense and highly lethal combat may be in the near future given current estimations of Russia’s available firepower.
“Putin still has the vast majority of his aircraft fixed and rotary wing that -- that he had amassed over the last few months, he has the vast majority of them still available for use, even though we know that some of the aircraft have been shot down by the Ukrainians and we assessed that he's also had some sustainment issues of his own in terms of his ability to maintain his aircraft,” a Senior Defense Official told reporters, according to a DoD transcript.
This suggests that a much heavier, more concentrated and lethal Russian air attack may still be to come, given that only a fraction of the country’s air power has been deployed to Ukraine.
Russia is known to operate thousands of fighter jets and is reported by Global Firepower as operating 544 attack helicopters. However, if Russia has so much more capable air power, why would it use it in Ukraine? Is the airspace above Ukraine still contested due to a lack of full effort on the part of Russia? It would seem unlikely that Russia would choose to operate without air superiority if it were capable of achieving it.
The Pentagon has said that Ukrainian air defenses do continue to be effective and that the Ukrainians are successfully using the weapons provided to them by the West. Also, pure numbers in terms of aircraft do not necessarily translate into performance superiority, as the effectiveness of the technology and state of repair are of great consequence as well.
For example, retired US Army Europe Commander Gen. Ben Hodges said he would be surprised if as much as one half of Russia’s large number of helicopters were properly maintained and capable of operations.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest and President of Warrior Maven - the Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.