Ukrainian pilots constantly disperse combat aircraft to various air bases and civilian airports to counter the Kremlin’s intensified strikes on air installations, runways, and pilot training centers in the western regions of Ukraine, as reported by The Financial Times.
Sources cited by FT say these attacks are specifically aimed at disrupting the Ukrainian Armed Forces' (AFU) ability to employ long-range Storm Shadow/SCALP stealth air-launched cruise missiles.
Former US Army Europe commander, General Ben Hodges, explained that the intensified attacks on Ukrainian air bases are Moscow’s attempt to prevent Ukraine from using its new stand-off capability to target Russian installations in Crimea.
In May, the UK delivered Storm Shadow cruise missiles with a range exceeding 250 kilometers to Ukraine. France also pledged to provide identical SCALP air-launched missiles during the NATO summit in Vilnius.
The Starokostiantyniv Air Base, home to Ukraine’s 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade which, among other things, flies Su-24M bombers, has now been targeted by large Russian strikes three times in the last four months – first on May 29, then on July 26 and again on August 6.
In the early days of the full-scale invasion, Russia knew that these aircraft posed a serious threat to their invading forces, and Moscow made a concerted effort to wipe them out as soon as possible.
Now Su-24Ms pose an even bigger threat to Russia, given that they’ve been modified to carry the Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles. With a maximum range of over 250 km, these stealth weapons give extended stand-off capability against targets defended by air defense systems.
Without risking the pilot or aircraft in a ring of threats, the AFU claims 100 percent of the Storm Shadows/SCALPs have hit their targets.
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