Russian Tactical Adaption : Russo-Ukrainian War

Breaking of the World: New Phase Russo-Ukrainian War: Syria Playbook

"He will come to death. An image of the splendor of the kings of men in glory, undimmed before the breaking of the world."

Indeed the rules-based international system now lies in rubble after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Ironically the rules-based system would be undone in part - by its primary underwriter.

The UkrAF dwindling air force still operates a handful of aircraft. To date, we have been unable to confirm if this Su-27P 'Blue 37' still flies. Along with a handful of MiG-29s, some/most/all of both types have been modified by NATO to carry US-made AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles. The success of this effort against Russian air defenses appears mixed.

The Boresight was envisioned to question conventional wisdom existing paradigms and the status quo. Especially those of the Washington foreign policy establishment and the Pentagon - especially after they architected a highly flawed response to 9/11. After two long failed wars killing millions and costing trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is rather easily accomplished. 

We are not mouthpieces of any nation, government, or manufacturer. Because the United States since the end of the Cold War still maintains an enormous standing military while at the same time unable to find the money to fund basic domestic housing and infrastructure needs for its citizenry, it is only responsible to ask blunt questions on where we send - and what we spend on - our military. Now we are embroiled in yet another foreign war in Ukraine. 

We believe that Russia is buying time while they prepare for a major offensive that will commence sometime when the ground freezes in Ukraine this winter of 2022. We believe this coming offensive is designed to resolve 'the Ukraine question' for the Kremlin.

"Ukraine's entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In more than two and a half years of conservations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin's sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests."  William Burns, 2008. Current Director of the CIA

NATO is now at undeclared war with Russia in Ukraine - using Ukraine as the proxy. 

The parallels between Ukraine and the war in Syria - are remarkable. A civil uprising turned into a civil war against the Assad regime in Syria, that morphs into a superpower opposition showdown that allies the United States, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar against the bloc of Russia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran on the other. This eventually included American F-22A sorties over Syria and some very tense East-West moments. As of October 2022, NATO is running, planning, and arming the war effort for Ukraine against the Russians. The Kremlin has now assigned the commander of the Russian effort in Syria, General Sergey Surovikin, to command all Russian forces in Ukraine. This gives the Russian war effort in Ukraine additional experience because of its exposure to advanced Western military hardware, operations, and tactics - gleaned in Syria. Given the Russian success in their Syrian campaign (Assad in power), this exposure should not be summarily dismissed. This includes Iranian technical personnel in Crimea now assisting with Shahed-136 drones in Ukraine. Yet more proof of Russia's Syria experience. At the end of the day, the US foreign policy establishment in Washington simply could not sell the narrative that a war in Syria to oust Assad - was of vital national interest to the American public. Because it wasn't. The war to save Ukraine will be similar.

Thousands of Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones acquired by Russia have been effective in reaching their targets. More proof of Russia's Syria experience, Iranian personnel in Crimea are assisting in 136 employment.  Kyiv residents no longer ignore air raid sirens.

Iranian-made Shahed-136 have long range, operate in pairs, can be released en masse, and are a bargain at ~ $9 thousand apiece. The Shahed-136 uses GPS just like HIMARS does.

It is plausible that Russia may acquire Iranian ballistic missiles (Fateh-313 short-range ballistic missiles or Qiam medium-range ballistic missiles) similar to the ones used to strike the American bases of Ain al-Assad and Erbil in Iraq on 07-Jan 2020 to hit Ukraine's air defense and infrastructure targets. US-NATO-supplied air defense systems are not generally credited with being able to handle protecting against ballistic missiles like Fateh-313 or Qiam. All of these systems including Shahed-136 and Kian "Arash" used together should stimulate Ukrainian air defense to try and stop them - where Russian anti-radiation weapons can then be employed.

RUMINT is that the weapon will also appear in Ukraine soon. Called the "Arash" it has a larger warhead than Shahed-136. Arash requires rocket-assist take-off. It has swept wings so flight speed is presumed higher than Shahed-136.

After a renewed concerted effort to destroy NATO-Ukraine air defenses, we expect heavy use of air power in the future by the Russians similar to what was done in Syria - which broke the back of anti-Assad forces there. 

We are not Kremlin apologists. Neither is William Burns. Perhaps people in the former Soviet Warsaw Pact countries have the right to self-determination and what orientation they would prefer East or West? The political idealist asserts that this is the case. However, that doesn't mean that every Russian leader since Gorbachev has not been alarmed at the eastward expansion of a Western military bloc. NATO. No one operates in a vacuum. The political realist understands this. This war remains a massive failure of diplomacy.

What we can say at this point in history - is that no - the modern Russian army was in no position to be a threat to NATO. So we have been subjected to decades of threat-over-inflation and money-squander by the Pentagon on Russia. 'Bomber Gap' 2.0

Drones: Neither side has been able to find an effective answer to cheap and plentiful quad-copter drones. They linger over both belligerent troops who remain completely oblivious to their presence. 

As we have seen the era of the kamikaze drone has arrived also and has been a vexing problem for air defenses to detect and bring down in time. Yes, some are hit - but others get through. Their heavy use by Russia means Ukrainian air defense must be spread more thinly across the county. The Shahed-136 appears to have almost no heat signature. Indeed this information appears on 13-December.

These flying gizmos seem to roam between 70ft and 400 ft high. Initially, we thought they were almost unopposed - this was false. Commercial quad-copter drone losses have been very high. Both belligerents have used them to correct artillery fire, drop grenades, and conduct reconnaissance. EW against them appears effective but perhaps uneven.

The same can not (can not) be said for Bayraktar TB2 class UAVs. The Bayraktar system has gone completely extinct in the Russo-Ukrainian War. The TB2 was simply no match for modern Russian air defenses manned by properly trained crews. Something we predicted would occur. Low, small, and slow appear to be much more effective than high, bigger, and slow.

The highly celebrated Bayraktar TB2 UAV as we predicted, had a short exciting career in Ukraine against integrated Russian air defenses. Appearantally the Turks' purchase of Russian S-400 didn't help Bayraktar deal with Russian air defenses after all. We are witnessing the obsolescence of an entire class of weapon platforms, like the piston-engine heavy bomber in the Korean War.

MANPAD effectiveness has also been a mixed bag. When aircraft employ expendables-countermeasures MANPADs appear to be no more effective in Ukraine than historical data suggests. MANPAD defeats by smart countermeasure use and smart tactics are difficult to quantify. How many rounds fired, how many hits, how many kills - and how many misses. These figures remain elusive for now.

Getting Ukraine Western combat aircraft: Western aircraft are not designed for austere dispersed operating environments - and typically require formal basing. Soviet-designed aircraft that Ukraine already has are vastly superior in operating in austere environments. Ukraine would be better off with more MiG-29, Su-24, Su-25, and Su-27s.


11-Nov, 2022: Keiv forces enter Kherson city. The Russians made an orderly withdrawal and blew the bridges. The Russians had already evacuated tens of thousands of ethnic Russians from Kherson in October.

09-Nov, 2022: OSINT claims the Russians are withdrawing to the left bank of the Dnieper including Kherson city. We shall see what develops or where these forces actually go.

01-Nov, 2022: "Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday that British navy personnel had blown up sections of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in September"

29-Oct, 2022: Boat drone targeting the Black Sea Fleet’s Admiral Makarov Project 11356 frigate, which Russian sources said was damaged.

These mysterious vessels have been seen before. This one washed ashore in Crimea in early September. Weaponized jet-ski 'suicide drone' set for impact detonation.

There is a lot to unpack here. Inexpensive jet-ski-based boat drones with explosives. It appears the results were mixed, with some getting through while others are destroyed. Apparently, one of these kamikaze jet skis detonated near the target - the rest didn't get through. Ultra-low-cost things attack high-cost things. The MIC isn't going to like this one bit.

Kyiv Buk-M1 SAM and a US-supplied M-777 155mm towed howitzer were destroyed by (low-cost) Russian 'Lancet' loitering munitions in the Kherson region.

All 5 of Russia's senior commanders (commanders of Russia's four primary military districts and the VDV) who led the invasion of Ukraine in February - have been relieved.

28-Oct, 2022: Su-34 in action - classic low-altitude weapon delivery. 

Most likely a VKS Su-24 in action.  

24-Oct, 2022: Progressives in Congress submit a letter to the US administration urging diplomacy to end the conflict. then a few days later withdraws the letter. The lack of serious diplomacy here is a major concern for us and other historians.

23-Oct 2022: We can not verify the authenticity of this footage of a hoard of Shahed-136s. If it is real Keiv forces air defenses will be overwhelmed. 

22-Oct, 2022: Another massive Russian missile attack into all parts of Ukraine. Here a UkrAF Su-27 chases a Russian Kh-101/102 or 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missile near Odessa. 

No one can claim that the Russian-designed R-73 air-to-air dogfight missile is not one of the finest in the world. Here either a UkrAF or a VKS fighter kills a drone with an impossible R-73 shot. This almost surely exceeds the off-boresight capability of any Western missile in the world.

Developed by Vympel NPO, the R-73 entered service in 1984. It would prove light years ahead of anything fielded by US-NATO airforces. The United States was forced to play catch-up and didn't field anything claimed to be comparable (AIM-9X) until 2003. 

20-Oct 2022: We learn this passed September 29 an RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint was fired upon by a Russian Su-27SM3. The Russians claimed it was a "technical malfunction." We have warned repeatedly that an international incident could occur if NATO and Russian forces are not deconflicted. No NATO ISR should be within 100 nm (185 km) of the combat area.

[Above] The RC-135 was out of RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. It returned safely to base.

[Above] Two Su-27SM3 intercepted the RAF aircraft over the Black Sea. One Sukhoi released a BVR missile during the encounter. 

On this day we also learn the US State Department believes Iranian personnel is on the ground in Crimea assisting with the employment of their Shahed-136 on Ukraine targets.

19-Oct 2022: The Kremlin places newly annexed territories under martial law.

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  1. These terror bombings with suicide drones seem like a desperation move by Russia, a half-assed attempt at breaking Ukrainian civilian moral while they regress from cruise missiles to Iranian loitering munitions.

    1. That's one narrative promoted in the West. Our sense is this is simply due to a change in commanders to General Sergey Surovikin (from Syria). He's an Air Force general. Sending in a horde of drones into Ukraine is the best way to stimulate (force to activate) Ukrainian air defense systems - to turn-on and radiate radar energy - so their locations can be known and attacked with anti-radiation weapons. If we were the Russians that what we would do. By sending drones into every corner of Ukraine to attack electricity and infrastructure you get clear picture of the disposition of the air defense systems are, what kind - and how many. Casualties actually have been quite low. This a terrible unnecessary war - but that genie is now way out of the bottle.
      - Boresight

  2. why did the ukrainians write a song about bayraktar drones if according to you they are "extinct"?

  3. Kiev was able to employ the TB2 initially...but after the Russian established their air defense integration - the TB2 appears to be unable to operate in the attack role any longer. The are no video of TB2 attacks any longer - at least the last 2-3 months. So song or no song - this strongly suggests TB2 cannot operate effectively any longer. In a way its no mystery. The TB2 has no stealth and is rather large. So an easy target for newer AD with properly trained crews. The same would be true for US Reaper and Predator class drones. Too bog. Easy to spot. The US is not offering these to Ukraine any longer either - as they did earlier in the war. - Boresight

  4. I don't see Russia gaining control of the skies or destroying Ukrainian air defense, Ballistic missiles and cruise missiles are nothing new and indeed have been used since the start of the war.
    Russia deployed large amounts of far more advanced cruise missiles in an attempt to decapitate Ukrainian air defences and logistics. However Ukrains IADS proved more resiliant or Russia's intel wasn't sufficient.

    And even after SAM's fire they can likely pack up and move before anti-radiation missiles can hit them, alongside an intact Ukrainian airforce I don't see how bargain bin missiles made from consumer grade electronics bought via shell companies would achieve much more. Even the shahed seems to be exclusively used for targeting civilian infrastructure with a great number of them being shot down. Can enough electronics and motors be purchased through back alley deals, especially as strategic bombing typically uses massive number of Ordenance.

    1. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. The observation about anti-ration missiles necessarily mean US-NATO AGM-88 have the exact same problem hitting Russian mobile SAMs - it the very reason the Soviets built mobile systems in the first place - so that's a wash.

      The best indicator of the condition of some battlefield radar systems is the use (or lack there of) of towed artillery. Towed artillery can not operate effectively in an environment where WLR (weapons location radars) are operating that can issue counter battery fire missions. Also any artillery fire makes lots of noise, fire, and smoke - so this can be picked up visually by drones. The repeated use of Shahed-136 (Geran-2) drones means US-NATO ISR doesn't have a good picture of their launch preparation points. Same for Lancet.

      Consumer grade drones make them very cheap and plentiful. The Russians likely have purchased thousands of Shahed-136s. Russia wont have any problem getting global electronics via China and India as both these countries have effectively unlimited access to global electronics. The Russian have a long history of trying to keeps weapons system cost - down. The real purpose of sending in Shahed-136 swarms is to provoke Ukrainian AD into turning on their radars and respond - and then these AD systems can be attacked with anti-radiation weapons. Where 136 are being downed shows where Ukrainian AD system are employed. Videos have begun to appear showing cheap Lancet drones hitting expensive things too.

      Russia is under mush less pressure regarding their stocks of munitions than is being depicted in the West - as they are still conducting high numbers of combat sorties in Syria - as we speak.

      This leads us to our last point - Syria. It is far more likely that the Russian will repeat their war strategy used in Syria. And that mean the entire infrastructure that facilitates armed resistance - is attacked. That means any enemy held infrastructure, communication, transportation, power, water, food supplies, hospitals, tunnels. Anything that can give aid and comfort to your opponent. General Sergei Surovikin was in charge of the campaign Syria and as of mid-October he is now commander of the entire Russian war effort in Ukraine.

      - Boresight

    2. Hello Boresight;

      You exclaim that by using the tactics used against syrian rebels to success, then that success will be replicated in Ukraine.
      But Syrian rebels didn't have an IADS or even many if any MANPADS, wouldn't using a similar strategy be foolish against an professional army, and couldn't it escalate the aid given by the west?

    3. Simple. VKS fly beyond the height of Syrian MANPADs and AAA. Then Su-34 Su-24 and Su-25 simply pounded rebels into submission from 20,000 ft altitudes. The VKS can do this in Ukraine (yet) until enough SA-11 and SA-8 mobile same systems are hunted down and killed.


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