world

They revealed why Russia keeps its most dangerous o…

In January 2022, the Russian military began an unprecedented deployment of highly effective weapon systems to military bases on the territory of Belarus.

The rebasing came amid greater integration of the two countries’ armed forces, with Minsk seeking closer ties with Moscow under the “Union State of Russia and Belarus”, particularly since late 2020, after Western forces were widely accused of supporting unrest in the country and imposed harsh economic sanctions. This is written by the American publication Military Watch Magazine, quoted by pik.bg.

At the time the deployments took place, tensions between Russia and NATO were rising, with the Western bloc rapidly increasing arms supplies to Ukraine in anticipation of a potential escalation of Russian-Ukrainian hostilities.

The outbreak of full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine in February subsequently accelerated military integration between Russia and Belarus, while prompting Russia to supply its neighbor with more advanced weapons, ranging from new upgrade packages for its Soviet-era tanks to technology transfers for ballistic missiles and even aircraft modifications to allow them to carry nuclear weapons under a special agreement.

The importance of Belarus for the deployment of Russian combat assets is twofold. First, the territory provides a northern flank from which to counter Ukraine. It has so far been used sparingly, as Russian S-400 air defense systems and Su-35 fighter jets in the territory have been used on a limited basis for operations against targets in Ukraine. An example is the unique case of the downing of an aircraft from the greatest distance in the world at that time – the downing of a Su-27 fighter over Kyiv by a S-400 battery 150 km away in Belarus.

Second, the facilities in Belarus give Russia a more defensible position against NATO if the Western alliance tries to launch military action against it, a possibility that has been raised repeatedly since the outbreak of Russian-Ukrainian hostilities in February. The weapons systems deployed in Belarus largely complement the strengths of the Belarusian military and compensate for the shortcomings, which in most cases are the result of the limited defense budget.

Below is a look at three of the most notable deployed systems, all of which have significant strategic advantages and are heavily benefited by Russian missile technology.

Su-35S air superiority fighters

The Su-35s were redeployed from bases in the Russian Far East and first arrived on January 26 at the Baranovichi airfield of the 61st fighter air base. The airbase previously hosted Su-27 fighter jets of the Belarusian Air Force, a predecessor of the Su-35 inherited from the Soviet Air Force.

The Su-35 is the most capable fighter in the Russian fleet in terms of air-to-air characteristics. The aircraft can attack targets deep in neighboring countries without leaving Belarusian airspace due to the power of its sensors and the exceptional range of the R-37M missiles – which have a low hypersonic speed of Mach 6 and a range of 400 km.

This fighter entered service in 2014 and was designed specifically to be able to deal with 5th generation stealth fighters like the US Air Force F-22 as it has sensors including the Irbis-E radar, two the L-band AESA radar and the OLS -35 infrared search and track system.

While one Su-35 has been confirmed shot down over Ukraine, these aircraft have perhaps more experience against 4th generation fighters than any other fighter class in the world and are credited with the highest number downed Su-27 of the Ukrainian Air Force, MiG-29 and other aircraft.

The transfer of these fighters from the Far East was partly facilitated by the growing capabilities of friendly Chinese and North Korean forces in the region, ensuring that the balance of power in the area would not be too favorable for Russian adversaries.

Half a squadron of latest-generation Su-57 fighter jets also played no small role in operations in Ukraine, although operating from bases in Russia itself.

S-400 air defense systems

Redeployed in late January alongside the Su-35, Belarus’ S-400 systems have played a vital role in offsetting the relative weakness of its air force, while complementing the Belarusian military’s own S-400s. These systems were also transferred from the Russian Far East and were expected to provide an opportunity to establish interaction with Belarusian pilots.

The system’s 400km range and 600km detection range against large aircraft makes deployment further from the NATO border potentially valuable, allowing Russian forces to strike targets deeper into Alliance territory as well as aircraft in Western Ukraine.

The S-400 is increasingly being considered the backbone of Russian air defense because its low operating costs allow it to be used in very large numbers.

Although the system has been superseded in an extended area of ​​effectiveness by the newer S-500 and S-300V4 systems, the S-400 is used many times more because it engages an increased number of targets simultaneously and is better optimized to deal with fighters with stealth capabilities . The system’s longest-range missiles can engage targets at speeds of Mach 14 and are capable of intercepting even slower hypersonic missiles.

Strike fighters MiG-31K

The last of the three assets to be deployed in Belarus is the MiG-31K strike fighter, which arrived in the country sometime in mid-October. This class of fighters first entered the Russian Air Force at the end of 2017 and is a unique type of aircraft that has no analogues anywhere else in the world.

While the S-400 is primarily a defensive asset and the Su-35 is capable of both offensive and defensive roles, the MiG-31K is highly offensive, each carrying one Kh-47M2 hypersonic ballistic missile.

Although the MiG-31 was originally developed as a long-range interceptor and remains the heaviest and fastest tactical combat aircraft in service worldwide, the MiG-31K variant uses the aircraft’s large size and excellent flight performance to provide a means of delivery of hypersonic missiles. Its Kh-47M2 missiles are prized for its Mach 10 speed and exceptional maneuverability, making it almost impossible to intercept, and its targets across Europe highly vulnerable. Its missile capabilities were first demonstrated in Ukraine, where they were used for limited strikes.

The MiG-31Ks are permanently deployed to high-stress areas, including in 2022 at Kaliningrad and the Khmeimim air base in Syria, and before that in the Russian Arctic alongside other variants of the MiG-31 interceptors.

Rising tensions with the Western bloc are expected to push Russia to expand the size of its air fleet faster and more, while potentially increasing production of the Kh-47M2 missiles due to their power and affordability.

The MiG-31I, the advanced successor to the MiG-31K, has already been confirmed to have entered service this August.

.

Related Articles

Back to top button