The Russian state news site Izvestia reported on Thursday that its Ministry of Defense had instigated a series of exercises to both improve the protection of military aircraft and airfields from drone and air strikes and to practice the repair of runways and the use of alternative emergency airstrips in the event of an attack.

According to the report, the exercises have taken place simultaneously in several regions of Russia, including in areas close to the Ukraine war zone. Following simulated attacks by special forces, engineer units repaired “damaged” runways, sealed craters and erected defensive “caponiers” around aircraft parking bays.

The article quotes Russian military expert, Alexey Leonkov Chief Editor of the magazine “Arsenal of the Fatherland,” saying that airfield service units have established teams that can quickly restore the runway and move aircraft or ammunition away from fires. “Such exercises should be conducted regularly, just as sailors exercise to ensure the survivability of a ship [after being hit],” he emphasized.

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Leonkov highlighted the regular attempts by the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) to carry out limited drone strikes against Russian airfields but asserted that, in the event of a conflict with NATO, such attacks will be more significant:

“They [NATO forces] will try to destroy our airfields with a first strike. Therefore, the Aerospace Forces have identified reserve and jump-off airfields, for which equipment must be kept in good order.”

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Another expert, Vasily Dandykin a retired Russian naval captain, said “Based on our experience in the Northern Military District, many points can be taken into account: how to protect aircraft from drones, how to cover them and how to provide airfields with electronic warfare equipment. A wealth of experience has been accumulated in these matters, and it must be reinforced by these exercises.”

He also expressed the view that current NATO training, such as Steadfast Defender 2024, is designed to test Russia’s capabilities: “We must also take into account the fact that right now NATO maneuvers are taking place near our borders with the participation of 90 thousand people, a large number of ships and aircraft.”

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He went on to say that with Poland increasing the size of its army, Russia “must be prepared for anything. Our enemies say that they are doing all this ‘to repel Russian aggression,’ but, in reality, they mean something else.”

The Izvestia article then went on to list some of the main Ukrainian drone attacks during the two years of the war while maintaining the Kremlin party line that, while worrying, the strikes had been largely unsuccessful or repelled.

The article mentioned the December 2022, attack on airfields housing strategic bombers near Dyagilevo, in the Ryazan region and Engels, in the Saratov region – the Russian Ministry of Defense account that three servicemen were killed and four were wounded, while two aircraft were slightly damaged contrasts with the picture that subsequent satellite images tell, with evidence that as many as five aircraft were seriously damaged.

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The Russian version of the August 2023 drone attack on the Soltsy military airfield in the Novgorod region against Il-76 military transport aircraft said a fire broke out in a parking lot after a drone was shot down by small arms fire, slightly damaging one aircraft but caused no casualties. According to Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate spokesman, Andrii Yusov, backed up by photographs from the scene, at least one was completely destroyed and at least one more damaged. After the event aircraft were evacuated to another airfield further away from the war zone.

Ukrainian forces have carried out a number of drone and sabotage attacks on Russian airfields in Crimea and central Russia, from where bombers operate to launch missiles at Ukrainian cities.

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Comments ( 1)

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Stefan
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"just as sailors exercise to ensure the survivability of a ship [after being hit],”

Yeah, that's been working really well in the past. ;)

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