The UK Ministry of Defence has estimated that the latest strike by Ukrainian forces on the Belbek airfield in occupied Crimea has further undermined the potential of Russian aircraft.
Source: UK intelligence review dated 10 February, reported by European Pravda
Details: UK intelligence pointed out that on 31 January, Ukraine struck the Russian Belbek airfield in Crimea, destroying the “radar control coordination facility bunker”.
Quote: “This will almost certainly degrade Russia’s ability to coordinate air activity in the Black Sea region, increasing reliance and strain on the already on the already stretched A-50 MAINSTAY aircraft fleet, as well as an increasingly depleted pool of trained personnel available to direct air operations.”
More details: UK intelligence explained that Russian doctrine envisages a significant role for ground command posts to coordinate air forces, especially fighters, including in the context of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Given the need for action in Ukraine, UK intelligence suggested that “it is almost certain that Russian pilots and ground personnel alike are now suffering from combat fatigue.”
Quote: “Any further strikes on critical coordination nodes in Crimea will almost certainly increase these pressures, creating a heightened possibility of mistake or miscalculation.”
Background: On 31 January, explosions were heard in different cities in occupied Crimea, and smoke was seen over the Belbek airfield. Ukrainska Pravda’s sources in the Armed Forces said that the airfield was struck by cruise missiles.
The Air Force later noted that the strike probably hit at least three Russian aircraft and some personnel.