Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Russia's Black Eye in Georgia, Redux

We found much of this information at Strategy Page a month ago, but Air Force Times has a new account of Russia's problems during its recent war in Georgia.

Sure enough, the Times account (based in part on AP reporting from Moscow) confirms that the Russian Air Force had significant problems with Georgia air defenses during the conflict. Officially, Russia admits to losing four aircraft to Georgian surface-to-air missiles; three SU-25 Frogfoot attack jets, and one TU-22 Backfire bomber.

But Russian military analysts say the aircraft losses were much higher. By their count, Moscow lost at least four other aircraft, in addition to those confirmed by Russian officials. The other aircraft shot down by the Georgians included another Frogfoot, an Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter, and two SU-24 Fencer reconnaissance and interdiction aircraft.

An independent research institute, the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, credits four of the kills to Georgian SA-11 SAM units. Tbilisi bought three SA-11 batteries from Ukraine in the late 1990s; they formed the backbone of Georgian air defenses during the recent conflict with Russia.

Analysts in Moscow reached the same conclusion we did last month; Russian aircraft losses over Georgia highlight weaknesses in the suppression (and elimination) of adversary air defenses. They also confirm something we mentioned in our assessment of the battle between aircraft and ground-based air defenses. Georgian SAM crews successfully employed denial and deception techniques to hide their equipment, complicating SEAD efforts for the Russians.

And who taught D&D to the Georgians? The Russians, of course. Making matters more embarrassing, the "killer SAMs" that downed Moscow's jets were designed and manufactured--you guessed it--in Russia. And that bomber the Russians lost? It was piloted by one of their most experienced crews, assigned to a flight test center.


Pope Incontinentius XIII said...

Oh, the irony. So the Russians obviously aren't some "clear and present danger"; they still have a few kinks to work out of their Air Force, at least. And I understand that NATO actually has more tonnage in the Black Sea than the Russians. That makes all of that "new Cold War" hype seem very hyperbolic

davod said...

Another irony is that the much touted amendment to the non-proliferation treaty was actually designed to take excess MANPAD stocks away. The usual ratbags didn't give up any MANPADS but the State Department did manage to steal away excess stocks from friendly nations.

Georgia was one nation which gave up excess stocks. I wonder if these MANPADS would have made a difference. What is the criteria for assessing excess MANPADS - more than the number required to conduct peacetime excercises?

SwampWoman said...

The Russians have lots of nuclear weapons. You want to bet that one WON'T work if it hits your neighborhood?