Military Aviation => Defence in General => Topic started by: tigershark on September 18, 2008, 03:57:23 AM

Title: Russia underestimated Georgian air defenses
Post by: tigershark on September 18, 2008, 03:57:23 AM
Russia underestimated Georgian air defenses
By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Sep 17, 2008 10:06:28 EDT

The commander of Georgia’s air force gathered the international media in April to show a video of a Russian MiG-29 Fulcrum shooting down a Georgian unmanned drone — four months before fighting broke out between the two countries.

It was the second Georgian UAV shot down by a sophisticated fourth-generation fighter, an example of Russia’s utter air dominance over its smaller neighbor. But although Russia ruled the air during fighting, its air force didn’t emerge unscathed.

Georgian air defense systems shot down multiple Russian aircraft — even one of its most advanced bombers — although it’s unclear how many.

Russian officials said three Su-25 Frogfoot attack planes and one Tu-22 Backfire long-range bomber were shot down by the Georgian military.

Georgia, on the other hand, claims it shot down as many as 21 Russian planes.

The Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow-based independent research institute, published a report in the Moscow Defense Brief crediting the Georgian military with eight kills. In addition to the four confirmed by the Russians, the institute claims the Georgians also shot down a fourth Su-25, an Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunship and two Su-24 Fencer reconnaissance and ground attack aircraft.

The report concluded that the Russian air force underestimated Georgia’s air defenses and needed to strengthen its tactics and resources to suppress enemy air defenses.

The institute credited Georgia’s Russian-made SA-11 Gadfly surface-to-air missile systems with the shootdowns of the Tu-22 and the three Su-25s.

Georgia bought three batteries of the SA-11 SAM system — a low- to high-altitude mobile system capable of taking out high-performance aircraft — from Ukraine in 2007.

Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, one of Russia’s deputy chiefs of General Staff, said the Georgians effectively hid the location of their vehicle-mounted air defenses during the first days of combat. He said the loss of the first four planes led his pilots to become more cautious.

The loss of the Tu-22 was especially embarrassing for the Russians since it was piloted by three military test pilots at one of the country’s most prestigious flight test centers.

Aircraft commander Col. Igor Zinov and second pilot Maj. Vyacheslav Malkov survived and were taken prisoner; the navigator died. Photos and video of them lying in Georgian hospital beds were transmitted around the world.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin even visited Zinov and Malkov once they returned to Moscow hospitals after prisoner-of-war swaps with Georgia.

The Tu-22, which was first designed to carry nuclear weapons, was flying a reconnaissance mission, Russian officials said. Former Russian air force chief Gen. Anatoly Kornukov said this was a mistake.

“They sent the Tu-22 crew to their deaths thinking that the Georgian air defense would mount no resistance,” Kornukov told Interfax news agency.

Alexander Golts, a Moscow-based independent military analyst, agreed.

“Using the Tu-22 for a reconnaissance mission over Georgia was the same as using a microscope to drive nails,” he said.

Less than a month after fighting ended, Russian leaders have begun taking steps to fix problems by increasing the number of satellites in the country’s Global Navigation Satellite System.

Putin signed an order to increase funding to launch 30 more satellites by 2011.

The increase will allow Russia to bolster its use of precision-guided weapons and improve its aerial and land navigation — three areas in which the Russians proved to be deficient during their battle with Georgia, according to the Moscow Defense Brief report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Title: Re: Russia underestimated Georgian air defenses
Post by: alyster on December 05, 2008, 10:23:24 PM
Sorry for brining up an old strory, but I've been away from here from some time due to some reasons. Anyhow I'd like to come back to the downed Tu-22. After reading a good articel about the war by major Riho Ühtegi in "Sõdur" No. 60. 

Although Russia claims that the plane was shot down by georgian SA-11 battery(or S-200 as some say), some experts suspect that it was shot down by friendly fire. The Tu-22 was flying quite low and very close to the conflict zone, so it had to be a recce. plane, b/c it can bomb the crap out of Georgia from safe distance.  It can not be proven, b/c all of the files about it are classified, but looking at Georgian non-existing air defence shooting down such a plane is a big victory. On second hand looking at unorganized Russian forces it's not a suprise that they could have shot anything that looked odd.

Things were so bad for Russians that they got one of their generals injured in a battle. Officially it was an artillery strike that hit him, but at the same time he was caughted in an ambush by Georgian forces. The odd thing was that the units designed to defend the formation from such attacks were helplessly at the end of the convoy. They should have been at the front  :-X

Amatrures on the both sides, but anyway I doubt that Georgia really was able to shoot down all the planes claimed to be shot down. Not that I doubt that these planes weren't shot down, but by who  ???
Title: Re: Russia underestimated Georgian air defenses
Post by: tigershark on December 06, 2008, 02:33:02 AM
Welcome back alyster it's been a long time I hope all is well.

I look at things in a different light and even know Russia in the end achieved their goals it wasn't what we call pretty. Sending a 30 year old bomber on a low level recon mission with almost 50 year pilot shows where the Russian military is.  Remember they began building up their forces too so even with a little time two to three weeks easily, this was all they could do.  Two or maybe three days in and they still haven't even clear the ski of Georgian Su-25's yet, who were still flying sorties, pretty sad in 2008 for a world power. 

From what I could find I don't thing Russia used smart weapons and the Su-24s were using dumb bombs.  It was very basic late 70s early 80s type fighting from top to bottom.  Russia's army was using slightly upgraded T-72's with ERA add on armor and basic artillery weapons.  Russia would level a block to clear enemy artillery, almost any NATO train semi modern force could be able to target the enemy cannons themselves.  Not this this didn't work don't get wrong it did but I think Russia's President was sending a little message as well.   

There were naval battles as well but again a modern military would have been able to find their targets better.  One USN Frigate would have destroyed all the Georgian Missile and Patrol Boats in minutes and at the same time.  It's like the Russian army, navy, and air force, had nothing planned together at first. 

I would have thought Russia would have known just about everything about them period right down to the serial numbers on the artillery. I knew who would win in end I just think the Russians were badly lead and poorly equipped.  To me it showed that very little cross training between the Russian three military branches takes place. 

I think if Russia had to fight a modern trained and equipped enemy they would take heavy loses.  What would they do breakout the reserve T-55s out of storage?  How many years had the Su-27 program been going on and there's less then a regiment of Su-27m1 or what ever there calling them now.  This should be a wake up call to Russia's government that their military needs funding and long time support. 
Title: Re: Russia underestimated Georgian air defenses
Post by: alyster on December 06, 2008, 11:07:59 AM
Thnx, but I'm not really back. Just visiting few times a month perhaps.

Anyhow yes I too would have expected more from Russian troops. Talking about the T-72 tanks even georgian T-72s were better, they had been upgraded in Ukraine and France. However these tanks were useless for Georgians because they lacked air defence to cover them on open ground, in the cities they lost their tanks to RPG fire. Russian APCs weren't up for the job either. Men still prefered to be ontop of them insted of being inside them. It means they weren't afraid of bullets but mines. They couldn't have been afraid of AT weapondry because Georgia lacks such things. RPG is for very short distance only. Thinking of it Georgia should have bought some MILAN missile systems cuz they knew Russia would come with heavy armour. But all of these problem were cause by the lack of money like you pointed out.

Which amazes me more is the conduct of the war. Russia should have been in control of the war from day 1. (If Georgia would have taken Roki tunnel at first then day 4 atlist) What I mean is that Russia had special forces in the area, from who they could(or did) get very good intel. about enemy. Aside from them they had all sort of rec. planes at their dispose. They should have known every Georgian move as soon as the enemy was making it and reacted to it accordingly. They had the resources for it, they had the know-how for it, but for some reasons their conduct of war was total caos. Battles and contacts with the enemy weren't planned, they just happened if either side spotted the other side. Russians just went forward not knowing what's going to happen - are they going to attack the enemy or is the enemy going to attack them.

Part of this problem was caused by Russian aged battle doctrine. Most NATO armies prefer to lead battalions into battle, Russia however still leads divisions. This means they had no idea about the tactical situation of smaller units. Division is too large for modern day war. Zhukov used this idea -  send as many division to the battle area as you can and see what happens. This is which was still going on.

Aside of the aged doctrine Russian army had alot of special equipment at their disposal. They should have made alot better use of it.
Title: Re: Russia underestimated Georgian air defenses
Post by: tigershark on December 06, 2008, 06:31:50 PM
That's an interesting point about doctrine and operating at a "Division" compared to "Battalion" level.  If Georgia had better 'command & control" they might have even been able to stand up to some of the Russian advancements and inflicted more counter fire to slow down Russian army drives in certain areas.   

I'm not sure if Russia's Army and/or Air force had access to a lot special equipment at their disposal.  Russia couldn't locate the 11 or 12 Su-25's Georgia had and efficiently take them out, in first strike type missions.  I think one Russia's weaknesses is battle field awareness and I think this show in how they fought and one of the reasons they used the bomber as a recon platform.  Some tactical missiles were used but I think target selection was called in so basically they were used like artillery most likely with spotter teams.  No UAV used to find targets, no satellites target selection, no pre-planned target selection,not very tactical for a world power.

I'm sure the Russian military could do better if they were funded and supported correctly by there government.

US Military doctrine I think is a little more flexible then Russian military doctrine.  I would think after all the Middle East wars and up till both Gulf War's that Russian doctrine would have changed? 
Title: Re: Russia underestimated Georgian air defenses
Post by: Webmaster on January 26, 2009, 04:40:30 AM
I agree with all your points, but

Sending a 30 year old bomber on a low level recon mission with almost 50 year pilot shows where the Russian military is. 

Not so negative. Tu-22M3 production 1983-1993... so 15-25 years old. Low level is its domain, and I'd say recommended for this type of mission. Recce, some have been stated to have been modified with sideways looking radar and ELINT equipment. I figure they thought that would produce better intel than a Su-24MR/MP can. They sent it with the best crew it seems, maybe the aircraft was also straight from the test center, with the crew. Maybe its mission was actually to figure out the position of the Georgian defenses, justifying the risk at the moment, but a mistake in hindsight. Anything what remotely comes close to 80/90s US sensor aircraft is sitting in some field awaiting overhaul or disposal, or never got past testing...

I was surprised by it at first as well, because I thought they'd used it as tactical bomber or it was some trigger happy commander who wanted to send one of its aircraft too, but for recon and especially ELINT with a good crew I can see what it was doing there.

About planning, doctrine may have been a problem, but maybe they weren't really prepared for the Georgians to take the initiative... Israel-Libanon, remember that mess, now imagine Lebanon having taken the initiave, the Israeli air force would also have gone in like headless chickens...

I think if Russia had to fight a modern trained and equipped enemy they would take heavy loses.  What would they do breakout the reserve T-55s out of storage?

Which country with a modern trained and equipped forces would take on Russia? They'd retreat after heavy losses yes, unless the enemy would attack Russia... reserve T-55s, lol, they wouldn't bother... they'd break out the Kh-55s out of storage, just two letters different, but a lot of pain. Not to mention the real strategic nukes... I don't think that Russia would care anymore about proportionality if it faces such an enemy.