The war in Ukraine shows the weakness of one of the most important weapons of modern armies

Instead of the quick Russian victory that Moscow and much of the world expected, the war in Ukraine lasted for nearly four months, with both sides losing thousands of troops and hundreds of planes and vehicles.

The devastation wrought by drones and other light and portable weapons has sparked renewed debate about the vulnerability of heavy military equipment on modern battlefields – including helicopters, which are an integral part of many armies’ plans to maneuver and fight.

Defense and aerospace analyst Sach Tosa argued, in an article for the site “Aviation Week”, that technological developments in sensors and anti-aircraft weapons on display in Ukraine are evidence that air attack missions and combat helicopter missions in general are becoming less viable.

In the early hours of the invasion, elite Russian VDV airborne forces attempted to capture Hostomil Air Base near Kyiv with an air attack.

Dozens of Mi-8 helicopters, manned by Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters, transported an assault force of paratroopers to the Ukrainian airfield.

The Russian air offensive was ultimately a failure, as the Russian army did not succeed in strengthening its air head with follow-up forces and the Ukrainians counterattacked aggressively.

The failure of that mission – which is similar to how the United States and other major militaries would conduct air assault operations – “should have come as a shock to many observers,” Tosa said, adding that Ukraine’s use of artillery and man-portable anti-aircraft guns.

The missiles thwarted Russian efforts to reinforce at Hostomell and hampered Russian helicopter operations for most of the war.

A report by the websiteBusiness Insider“Russia lost nearly 200 helicopters during the invasion, while the losses of Ukrainian aircraft remain uncertain, but are “probably high,” noting that neither side has the “night flying capabilities” available to the US military, so they must risk flying during the day.

Commenting on this, retired US officer, Greg Coker, said that the two sides do not have modern equipment, according to his interview with “Business Insider”.

In the absence of night flight capabilities, Ukrainian and Russian pilots could “adopt a number of tactics, techniques and procedures to increase their survivability”.

On this, Coker explained: “They should take advantage of the available terrain or go to an altitude that would put them outside the range of the systems that shoot down their planes,” noting the possibility of delaying the use of helicopters “until there is a real need to use them.”

Fighting in the months-long war has tilted Russia’s favour in the past few weeks due to its massive superiority in artillery firepower, a fact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged in a late-night speech on Tuesday.

“Just as actively we are fighting for the European Union to take a positive decision on Ukraine’s obtaining candidate status, we are also fighting every day for modern weapons for our country. We do not linger for a single day,” Zelensky said. He urged the countries supporting his country to speed up arms delivery.

On Thursday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the goal of Moscow’s intense air and artillery bombardment was to completely destroy the Donbass region, and urged Kyiv’s allies to speed up the shipment of heavy weapons to it so that Russia would be rewarded on the battlefield.

Read also: Russia controls two villages… and Ukraine seeks heavy weapons

“We must liberate our land and achieve victory, but at a much faster pace,” Zelensky said in a video speech, again calling for Ukraine to be supplied with bigger and faster weapons.

He added: “There was intense air and artillery bombardment in the Donbass. The goal of the occupier here has not changed, they want to destroy the entire Donbass step by step.”

“That is why we have repeatedly emphasized the need to speed up arms deliveries to Ukraine. What is needed to be achieved quickly is parity on the battlefield in order to stop these savage crowds and push them beyond Ukraine’s borders,” he added.

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