In the early days of the Kremlin's invasion, many commentators expected that Russia's air force would decimate Ukraine's soldiers. It would leave Ukraine's armed forces wide open to attack from Russian warplanes.
However, this has not taken place.
Russia has the second-largest and most advanced air force in the world, but almost two months later, they still have not established air supremacy over broad areas of Ukraine. The New York Times quotes the US Department of Defense as saying that Ukraine "continues to fly its own fighters and assault jets against Russian troops."
Even Russia's air force is apprehensive because of the continued strength of Ukraine's anti-air systems. There has been a concerted effort by NATO members to flood Ukraine with MANPADS, including the American-made Stinger missile. The Stinger system is designed to be used by a single gunner, and its infrared-guided missile can lock onto and destroy an enemy plane.
According to Russian military expert and Jamestown Foundation member Pavel Luzin: The Western deliveries of MANPAD and other types of air defense systems helped Ukraine to grow and upgrade its capabilities.
According to William Alberque, director of strategy, technology, and weapons control at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Ukraine was able to effectively disperse these air defenses, making it too risky for Russian combat jets to take off.
The length of Russia's war has coincided with an increase in military aid to Ukraine from NATO members. Last month, Slovakia declared that it has given Ukraine its S-300 long-range air defense system, which was originally developed in the Soviet Union.
Russia's military capabilities have been limited by its combat aircraft's inefficient weaponry.It has been reported by the New York Times that Russian pilots are unable to quickly find and engage targets on the ground, and that missiles fired into Ukraine frequently miss their targets, if they operate at all.
Alberque claims that Russia has many less precision-guided weapons than NATO. Security analyst Oliver Alexander echoed this on Twitter, saying that Russia lacks precision-guided munitions and is therefore forced to employ dumb munitions [unguided bombs] to operate at scale.
However, Russia's inability to achieve air superiority cannot be attributed solely to technological limitations. Analysts claim that Russia's air doctrine has been ill-conceived and clumsily implemented since the conflict began.
They anticipated it would be over fast, with a total Ukrainian surrender at first contact and Zelensky either caught or fleeing, Alberque stated. He claimed that the Russian military would be much more deadly now if the Kremlin had known that the Ukrainians would be able to withstand an attack.
According to Alberque, the Russian military command was cautious not to damage Ukrainian infrastructure that it intended to maintain for post-war control because Moscow expected to seize Ukraine in the first few days.
University of St. Andrews professor of strategic studies Phillips Payson O'Brien and former Royal Air Force air marshal Edward Stringer wrote an essay in Monday's issue of The Atlantic delving into the shortcomings of the Russian air force. They state in the essay that the Russian military has trouble being innovative with aviation strategy because it is philosophically dedicated to being a classic ground force with vast reserves of soldiers.
The Russian air force was unable to carry out a well-planned, complicated campaign when the invasion started, the authors found. Russia's air force has mostly supported ground troops or blasted Ukrainian cities rather than try to establish air superiority. Here it has acted in the conventional manner of a continental power that places a premium on its ground troops.
The preceding is a summary of an article that originally appeared on The Daily Cable.