How Ukraine Is Beating the Russian Airforce With US Missiles

  • Ukrainian anti-aircraft weapons shot down five Su-25s war planes. 
  • US-supplied ATACMS destroyed 14 helicopters on the ground, said UK military intelligence.
  • The scale of Russia’s losses is unprecedented since the first days of invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine spectacularly humiliated Putin’s airforce in October, shooting down Russian warplanes and destroying helicopters on the ground, say reports.

It has been bolstering its air defense capabilities in recent months, The Kyiv Post reports, and the Russian Air Force  lost five SU-25 attack jets over a 10 day period.

The scale of Moscow’s combat aircraft losses has not been seen since the early days of Putin’s full-scale invasion.

The Russian pilots flying Su-25 Grach aircraft now appear to face higher risks when they take to the air. The Su-25 is a robust Soviet-era jet designed to withstand small-arms fire and even some missile strikes, making it a crucial aircraft, experts say.

The Russian shootdowns have mainly occurred in areas of heavy ground combat. The Su-25 relies on short-range, unguided rockets to attack its targets, typically following preliminary strikes by heavy bombers.

“They can’t attack from a substantial distance. Therefore, the enemy has to fly closer, and as a result, we’ve shot down five planes over the past ten days,” Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson for Ukraine’s joint forces south, told the UNIAN news agency, said earlier this week.

Defense reports say Ukraine’s armory has recently been bolstered by a delivery of US AIM-9 air-to-air missiles – modified to be fired from the ground, per the Kyiv Post.

The AIM-9, designed initially as a heat-seeking missile, is effective at short ranges.

Canada announced it was donating 43 AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles to Ukraine in April.

The Ukrainian military has traditionally relied on Cold War-era hand-held anti-aircraft missiles like the Polish Grom and the US Stinger to defend their forward positions against Su-25 attacks. However, reports suggest that anti-aircraft missile stocks, especially the US-supplied Stingers, have dwindled.

Ukraine sought assistance from the US to replenish its air defense arsenal, and AIM-9s were on the list.

A new tranche of US military aid for Ukraine “includes AIM-9 munitions for a new air-defense system that we will soon deliver to Ukraine,”said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on October 11, part of a military assistance package valued at $200 million.

Meanwhile, the UK has also supplied advanced AIM-132 ASRAAMS, air-to-air missiles, that Ukraine has fitted to trucks.


Adding to its mix-and-match armory, Ukraine’s recently acquired ATACMS has boosted its capability to attack the Russian air force. This week, the much-prized weapon was first used in spectacular strikes on two Russian airfields in Berdyansk and Luhansk. 

The US discreetly delivered a limited number of long-range ballistic missiles to support the war-torn nation’s defense efforts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed this development in an evening address this week, thanking the US for its continued military support.

Zelenskyy said the missiles had already been used on the battlefield and were executed “very accurately,” per AP.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said in a Friday intelligence update that it is “likely” nine helicopters were destroyed at Berdyansk, alongside five more in Luhansk, and other aviation equipment.

It proves the US-provided missile systems may leave a lasting impact on Russia’s airpower, Insider’s Jake Epstein reported. 

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