The Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) announced that Kalashnikov Concern will double its production of Kitolov-2 projectiles, Strela anti-aircraft missiles and Vikhr-1 guided missiles as Ukraine moves closer to acquiring F-16 fighting falcons.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that the Ministry of Defense informed the company’s management about the need for anti-aircraft guided missiles. The Minister of Defense emphasized that anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles are necessary and that all critical infrastructure and economic assets (oil, gas and refining) will be protected with these missiles.
Strela 9M333 anti-aircraft missiles can target drones, cruise missiles, low-flying aircraft and helicopters, even during optical jamming.
The Strela-10M series of air defense systems protects ground forces against aerial reconnaissance and assault aircraft operating at low and extremely low altitudes during battle and while on the march. Currently, it is among the most used air defense systems worldwide.
Russia thrown out batch production of a new 9M333 guided missile for air defense systems of the Strela-10M family. Russia has widely deployed the Strela in the ongoing battle.
However, several military observers have questioned its effectiveness in shooting down hostile drones. Strela heat-seeking missiles, designed to locate hot jet engine exhaust, have difficulty locating small drones with low infrared signatures.
Military experts have noted that Russian heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles are equipped with impact fuzes, which work well with large targets such as aircraft. This means that anti-aircraft systems can still perform well against Ukrainian fighter jets, especially since kyiv is scheduled to receive F-16 fighter jets from its NATO counterparts.
An image circulating on social media shows a Lockheed Martin aircraft at an air base. The F-16 appears to be in Europe, probably at the Fetesti air base in Romania, where it is used as a NATO training center for Ukrainian ground and air crews.
F-16 with Ukrainian Air Force markings at a European airfield, receiving training from a Ukrainian pilot. pic.twitter.com/Klr4naXpzX
— OSINTtécnico (@Osinttechnical) February 9, 2024
Some Dutch F-16 aircraft are present at the site for training. However, the paint on the plane’s fuselage does not match the Royal Netherlands Air Force fighter jet.
A Ukrainian military expert who did not want to be identified told the Eurasian Times that it appears to be a Photoshopped image. He added that Ukrainian colors were added over the red and white Danish markings.
Although Ukraine has not yet received F-16 fighters, there is optimism that the aircraft will be delivered by the end of this year. According to officials in Denmark and the Netherlands, the readiness of Ukraine’s infrastructure and pilots, among other things, will determine the delivery schedule. The pilots are still in training.
On the one hand, it is possible that the first batch of aircraft will come from the Netherlands. On December 22, Dutch Defense Ministry spokesman Mark Rutte said additional fighter jets could be supplied later. Even so, the prime minister stated that his government has begun preparing the first 18 planes.
The delivery date for the six aircraft that Denmark was due to provide by the end of 2023 has reportedly been brought forward by six months. Copenhagen indicated that a total of 19 aircraft would be sent. The Belgian Defense Minister has committed to acquiring several aircraft that should arrive in 2025.
Several Ukrainian publications have noted that Ukraine is expected to have at least a few F-16s in service by late spring or early summer. Although this is not yet set in stone, there is jubilation in kyiv and the Ukrainian Air Force is making preparations on a war footing. In this context, the growing Russian production of its anti-aircraft systems can be significant.
The Russians are also increasing production of Vikhr-1 guided missiles, which have been widely deployed in the ongoing battle and fired from attack helicopters. Vikhr is an air-launched anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system. Each Ka-52 can carry twelve Vikhr transport and launch containers with ATGMs.
The 9M127-1 Vikhr-1 ATGM is a supersonic missile with a 12-kilogram tandem HEAT warhead and laser guidance. No matter where it hits a tank, the missile can defeat any contemporary tank because it can pierce 1,200 mm of armor.
The Vikhr-1 missile can target even faster moving air targets (up to 800 kilometers per hour). The 10-kilometer range of the Vikhr-1 is twice that of the Stinger MANPADS. Meanwhile, Russian helicopters are also practicing firing unguided anti-tank munitions at simulated targets in distant regions.
Baltic Fleet helicopters fire unguided missiles
At a training ground near Kaliningrad, the crews of the Mi-24 attack helicopters of the Baltic Fleet and the Mi-8 multipurpose naval aviation helicopters practiced the use of weapons by conducting approximately 20 sorties and launching missiles against fortifications, fortresses and other imaginary enemy installations. The press office of the fleet, TASS news agency, reported on these exercises. reported.
“Helicopter pilots practiced the use of air-launched weapons against surface targets at a distance of 500 meters to 3,000 meters from minimum and medium altitudes, providing fire support to units of the fleet’s coastal forces,” it says the press release. “Attacks on targets were carried out by individual helicopters or in pairs with 80 mm S-8 unguided missiles.”
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The press office reported that special attention was paid to low-altitude flights along designated routes over rough terrain during inclement weather and in the face of enemy defense countermeasures. There was substantial use of tactics and methods developed from battle experience gained during the special military operation.
Mi-24 attack helicopters can destroy the enemy’s manpower on the front lines and in tactical depth, armored and unarmored, small and surface, ground and surface, low-speed and low-flying targets. It can also support troops on the march and during operations deep inside enemy defenses. Mi-24 helicopters can also be used for various purposes such as mining terrain, fire control, reconnaissance and surveillance.
The Mi-8 multipurpose helicopters can be used to transport paratroopers, ammunition, weapons, cargo, food, medicine, fire support, extinguishing fire sites and evacuating the dead and wounded.