On April 28, the Ukrainian military conducted a strike against the Kushchyovskaya airbase in Krasnodar Krai, Russia using a small group of drones. Visual evidence suggests that at least one Russian Su-34 aircraft was destroyed in the operation. However, the main success of this mission was not the damage dealt to the aircraft, but rather the destruction of a warehouse that contained a stockpile of one of Russia’s most potent weapons in the invasion of Ukraine: the KAB-500 glide bomb.

The KAB-500 is an air-launched munition developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s. The first iteration of the bomb, known as the KAB-500L, was designed to use a laser guidance system and movable fins to maneuver toward its target after being fired from an aircraft. This design was later upgraded to the KAB-500S-E which traded the laser guidance system for a more sophisticated satellite uplink used for targeting. This satellite guidance system is tethered to “GLOSNASS,” a Russian-developed alternative to GPS. The system can be considered Russia’s analog to the American-produced JDAM in that it allows “dumb bombs” to accurately maneuver and fly towards a target over a great distance.

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The Russians have made heavy use of the KAB-500 in Ukraine. Russian pilots can launch a KAB at the edge of Ukrainian airspace and fly home as the bomb glides toward its target. Additionally, the KAB carries a particularly large payload as it was designed to strike docks and fortified military installations. It is difficult to overstate the damage that even a single KAB can cause in a Ukrainian city.

Russian UAVs Again Enter NATO Airspace During Drone Attack on Ukraine
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Russian UAVs Again Enter NATO Airspace During Drone Attack on Ukraine

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Faced with this threat, the Ukrainian military has developed two strategies. The first is to target and destroy KAB stockpiles whenever possible. Although these operations are useful for shrinking Russia’s inventory of glide bombs, they do not provide a direct counter for the near-nightly volleys of KABs launched at Ukrainian cities.

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The second strategy (which we will likely see in the coming months) is to use aircraft like the F-16 to destroy inbound KABs and intercept Russian aircraft.

But more on that later…

Reprinted from the author’s blog Why It Matters. See the original here.

 

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