Oleksandr Turchynov: Plan B

I have been compelled by recent events to write about the traditional inaction of the military-political leadership of the country to the blow inflicted on us by our enemy with the use of heavy weapons on the Ukrainian Avdiivka, which led to significant losses among our military.

The daily shelling of our positions by Russian occupation forces, the large number of killed and wounded Ukrainian servicemen, the significant civilian casualties, and the destruction of civilian buildings are convincing evidence of the fiasco brought about in 2019 by the current Ukrainian government’s peace initiatives.

For the past two years, we have been told that there is an alternative “Plan B” in the event of a breach of the peace agreements. But this alternative plan was never presented or announced. Despite the bloody losses, we continue to be told about “approaching peace” and “improving the causality statistics.”

I want to help the country’s leadership with the preparation of a “Plan B”, although it is she be more accurately called – the only possible plan to preserve the freedom and independence of Ukraine. The meaning of this Plan is very simple and clear – to ensure reliable protection of our country and to restore the gradual but relentless liberation of Ukrainian land from Russian occupation.

A careful analysis of the enemy’s military capabilities is needed to determine an effective strategy for Ukraine’s defence and the main directions for strengthening our defence capabilities.

As of the beginning of August this year, three joint task forces have been created near and along the border with Ukraine, which are capable of carrying out sudden offensive operations on the territory of our country without mobilization and with minimal preparatory measures. The Russian Federation is actively forming new military units (formations and units), as well as reorganizing existing military formations in order to increase their combat potential. 28 battalion tactical groups have been deployed along the state border of Ukraine. The formation of three new units is nearing completion – two armies and an army corps, which plan to become fully operational by the end of 2021.

In the Western strategic area, we are directly threatened by the 20th Combined Army. Its main strike forces are the 3rd and 144th Motorized Rifle Divisions. The 448th Missile Brigade of the 20th Army is armed with Iskander operational and tactical missile systems. The 8th Combined Arms (Shock) Army, consisting of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division, the 20th Detached Motorized Rifle Brigade, and the 1st (Donetsk) and 2nd (Luhansk) Army Corps, operates in the South-Western Strategic Area. The army provides for the deployment of missile brigades OTRK “Iskander.”

The total number of ground forces of the Russian Armed Forces along the Ukrainian border is currently 87,000, with up to 1,100 tanks, up to 2,600 armored combat vehicles, up to 1,100 artillery systems, up to 360 volley fire missile systems, and 18 operational and tactical missile systems.

The total number of ground groups of the Russian armed forces in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is about 35,000 servicemen, with up to 480 tanks, up to 910 armoured combat vehicles, up to 720 artillery systems, and up to 200 volley fire rocket systems.

A powerful joint taskforce of troops has been created on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which is temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation, covering land, air, and sea components and numbering about 33,000 servicemen. Its main strike force is the 22nd Army Corps. The military infrastructure created on the peninsula is fully ready for the deployment and use of nuclear weapons.

The formation of mobilization deployment centres, which are close to our border, is underway, on the basis of which it is possible to form up to 4 combined military divisions (Boguchar, Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Novoozerne). Their equipment and armaments include – tanks, armoured combat vehicles, artillery systems, volley fire missile systems and operational-tactical missile systems.

The above-mentioned military units are the so-called first wave of a possible full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In order to ensure the objectivity of this threat assessment, it is advisable to take into account the capabilities of the second wave of the invasion.

In 2014, the First Tank Army, which became part of the Western Military District (ZVO), was reformed by decree of the President of the Russian Federation. Today, the First Guards Tank Army includes motorized infantry, tank, artillery, missile, anti-aircraft missile and other formations and military units. Including, the well-known Taman and Kantemirov divisions, currently included in the fighting structure and with powerful connections and real combat experience. The First Guards Tank Army is in constant full combat readiness and is considered to be the largest unit in the Russian army. The first T-14 “Armaty” tanks, “Kurganets-25″armoured personnel carriers, and “Boomerang” BMPs have been delivered to the 1st Tank Army. The military units of the army are armed with T-80 tanks, T-72B3 tanks, T-90 thanks, BMP-2 and BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, BTR-82AM armoured personnel carriers, as well as “Iskander-M” operational and tactical missile systems.

The main danger of the 1st Tank Army is its possible use from the Belarusian direction. Having lost legitimacy in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has become completely dependent on Russia, so the probability of opening a so-called Belarusian front of the invasion of Ukraine is extremely high.

The 49th and 58th armies of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation are in reserve in the South-Western strategic area. They can be used to intensify the offensive of the 8th Army in the east of our country, as well as to quickly strengthen the Crimean group to strike from the south.

The danger of the marine component of the Russian Federation has at least two dimensions. One is a landing on the coast of the Azov and Black Seas to control the territories and the naval blockade of Ukraine, the capture of the Kakhovka HPP dam and engineering structures of the North Crimean Canal to supply fresh water to the occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The second is the blocking of Ukrainian shipping on trade routes in the Black and Azov Seas.

It should be borne in mind that the Ukrainian coast of the Black and Azov Seas has a large number of landing areas. The main subjects of this threat are the 22nd Army Corps of the Russian Federation, the Russian Black Sea Fleet Marine Brigade, and three air regiments and an airborne battalion stationed in Feodosia, which are planned to be reorganized into a regiment. In 2018, large-scale exercises of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation took place with the participation of about 2,000 paratroopers, whose simulation was the landing of a sortie onto the coast of the Odessa and Mykolayiv regions.

A new helicopter group (Mi-8) has been formed in the north of the ARC, the main task of which is to land a sortie to capture the infrastructure of the North Crimean Canal.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet has a high combat potential. Over the past five years, the Russian Black Sea Fleet has been replenished with 16 new warships, boats and submarines, most of which are equipped with Caliber-NK and Caliber-PL missile systems capable of hitting targets over long distances. The Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation has a qualitative advantage over the Ukrainian Navy and has up to 40 warships, 7 diesel-electric submarines and 15 warships. Of these, 11 surface ships (3 frigates, 2 small missile ships) and 6 submarines are carriers of naval cruise missiles of the “Caliber” type. Their total missile volley, taking into account the coastal batteries in the Crimea, is 156 missiles. The Russian Black Sea Fleet includes two small missile ships and a patrol ship of project 22160 “Vasily Bykov” (two more ships are under construction.)

Captured gas extraction platforms, the so-called “Boyko towers”, are used by the Russian Federation not only for illegal gas production from Ukrainian fields, but also for the placement of powerful reconnaissance equipment. This makes it possible to control the air, surface and underwater situation in the north-western part of the Black Sea. If necessary, the Black Sea Fleet can be quickly strengthened by the Caspian flotilla.

The Russian air and space forces were not used in strike operations against Ukraine but took an active part in the transfer of military units at the beginning of the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Russia is able to transfer forces and means of air and space forces at any distance and carry out operations on a global scale.

The military aviation capabilities of the Russian Air and Space Forces, within the context of its application to Ukraine, amount to 440 aircraft, including 330 combat aircraft, and up to 210 helicopters, including 150 attack and multi-purpose helicopters.

To ensure offensive action from the air, the General Staff of the Russian Federation may additionally use the capabilities of the 4th and 6th Army of the Air and Space Forces, which creates multiple advantages of the Russian Air and Space Forces over the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The Russian armed forces have a significant advantage in numbers, armaments and military equipment over the Ukrainian Armed Forces. But the use of the Russian military in the fighting in the Donbas showed a complete lack of motivation for them to die for the Kremlin’s imperial ambitions. Most Russian servicemen have not only a lack of motivation and low morale, but also low training, in contrast to the elite units of the Russian army.

Realizing the enormous danger that threatens our state, we must stop looking for “peace” in the eyes of a tyrant, and instead soberly analyse the situation, identifying priority and effective measures to counter the aggressor with limited financial, logistical and human resources.

To successfully counter the Russian threat, it is necessary to consolidate and mobilize the nation, our defence, economic and, above all, intellectual potential. We cannot and must not copy Russia’s armed forces, but we must identify their weaknesses and invest our rather limited resources in the most effective technologies for destroying military equipment and enemy personnel involved in offensive operations. The main objective is to return the country’s defence capabilities as a state priority, which has previously been lost over the last two years.

It must be understood that PR and discussions cannot replace structural reforms, strengthening the Armed Forces and its transition to NATO standards, which will provide the army with new capabilities. There is no alternative to Euro-Atlantic integration in Ukraine, but for Zelensky to ask “Why aren’t we in NATO?” the answer lies not in Biden, but in himself.

The lack of a strategic vision of the country’s military-political leadership and appropriate planning, which has lead to an absence of specific goals and combat objectives, in addition to the ban on returning fire and launching offensives, demotivates and demoralizes the army.

What is happening to the troops defending the country in the east cannot even be called “passive defence.” Because the latter at least involves the constant strengthening of our own defensive positions. In our country, in the last two years, we have not improved either militarily or in terms of engineering. Concrete and iron did not replace rotten wood. There is a lack of quality communications equipment, modern surveillance systems, effective medical care, new weapons and repaired equipment. Against this background, the government’s edited statistics cannot hide the increase in the number of killed and wounded, or justify passivity and inaction.

It is no longer possible to delay the removal of restrictions on the use of force and an adequate response to every provocation from the enemy. Only the fear of the inevitability of significant losses from asymmetric strikes will force Russian terrorist groups in the east to begin to curtail hostilities.

It is time to return to the tactics of a step-by-step offensive (“creeping offensive” by the definition of the enemy), which proved its effectiveness in 2016-2018. Only this tactic allowed us to advance tens of kilometres to the east without direct combat with the main forces of the Russian army and with minimal losses, liberating a significant number of settlements.

The main and most valuable resource of the country’s defence is our soldiers and officers with training and combat experience. Without proper treatment, decent material security and social protection, we lose, on a daily basis, a key component of the combat capability of our Armed Forces. Qualified and trained specialists, officers, and contract soldiers are being dismissed en-masse from the Armed Forces.

The last time wages (military allowances) in the Armed Forces were increased was during Poroshenko’s presidency. The media have repeatedly quoted statements by officials of the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff that they do not plan to increase military salaries in 2021, that the financial support for servicemen will remain at the level of 2020, which are in fact at the level of 2019!

There is no adjustment to the allowances of servicemen, even to the level of inflation. This year it was 27% lower than the average salary in the country. Despite the fact that in 2016-2017 the military salary was 160% of the average salary in Ukraine.

A significant demotivating factor for the continuation of service is also the problem of implementing the experience gained during international, in particular, foreign training – the experience is not being analysed, systematized or used. The practical experience gained during the battles with the Russian armed forces is in no way used in training and preparatory practices in the Armed Forces, although Ukraine’s partners consider such experience to be one of the main principles for increasing readiness to deter and repel Russian aggression.

The current military leadership of the state has stopped programs to raise the social standards of servicemen of the Armed Forces and social protection of their families and veterans. Despite the fact that the Armed Forces, as a state institution, maintains the highest level of trust in society, servicemen and veterans themselves lose their honourable social status, feel social insecurity and are sometimes forced to demand attention to their problems in socially dangerous ways.

Despite the victorious statements from the leadership of the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff about plans to provide housing for the military, out of 1.2 billion hryvnias provided for housing in the budget of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, only 200 million hryvnias were spent in six months. The transfer of housing to the military has been suspended. Mortgage lending and leasing programs, the analogues of which have been operating for a long time in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, have not yet been launched by the Ministry of Defence.

Taken together, the aforementioned issues form a systemic problem of the capacity of the Armed Forces as an institution to ensure military and state security. That is why raising the money supply to a level well above the average salary in the country and raising social standards of military service are becoming a priority in the implementation of the country’s defence strategy and the transition to NATO standards.

The military parade dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence proved that the current authorities in the country stopped developing new types of weapons and military equipment. Everything that passed through Khreshchatyk was designed and, in most cases, produced before 2019. Moreover, armoured vehicles and rocket vehicles are a clear indication that many promising projects have been criminally frozen. They were mentioned only to form ostentatious displays, not to defend the country. In general, the last two years of financing the state defence order show that the country’s military-political leadership lacks a strategic vision and understanding of the real threats in the event that the Kremlin resorts to a full-scale military conflict. For the third year in a row, the country is not only disrupting the implementation of the state defence order, but also completely defies the logic of its formation. It does so either through the purchase of obsolete weapons from Soviet times and old low-quality ammunition under corrupt schemes, or the financing of ostentatious projects that will not strengthen our defence (such as ordering a single “Oplot” tank to participate in the parade), or investing in foreign-made OiVT projects that are unaffordable for the defence budget, satisfying the interests of international partners, and not the defence priorities of one’s own country.

The continuation of such disorder poses a real threat to Ukraine’s national security. An analysis of the offensive capabilities of the Russian army, to ensure the development of the most effective countermeasures, should become the main priority in the formation of DOZs with our rather limited defence budget.

I will briefly dwell on some key priorities.

The Land Forces of Ukraine have about 800 tanks of various modifications, about 1,000 infantry fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers (BTR-3, BTR-4 class); about 400 armoured personnel carriers (class BTR-60, BTR-70, BTR-80, MT-LB, BTR-D).

Thus, given the above statistics, the armed forces of the Russian Federation outnumber the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the number of armoured vehicles that can be quickly used to attack the territory of Ukraine, in particular, in the number of tanks – The Russians have more than twice as many and three and a half times more armoured vehicles. If we take into account the number of tanks and armoured vehicles that can be used by the enemy in the second wave of the invasion, this proportion becomes impressively negative for Ukraine.

Under such conditions, the key issues of state protection are the capabilities of our anti-tank defence systems.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have the following anti-tank missile systems:

  • Anti-tank guided missile system 9K111  “Fagot”  – Soviet / Russian portable anti-tank missile system with semi-automatic command guidance on wires, developed in the 70s of last century;
  • Anti-tank guided missile system 9K111-1  “Competition”  – Soviet anti-tank missile system with semi-automatic command guidance on wires, developed in the 70s;
  • Stugna-P  complex  – a modern Ukrainian anti-tank missile system of the second generation, developed by the Kyiv design bureau Luch;
  • Corsair complex  – a modern Ukrainian anti-tank missile system developed by the Luch Design Bureau;
  • Complex FGM-148 “Javlin” – modern portable anti-tank missile (ATGM) produced by US companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

Exercises with ATGM “Fagot”  and  ATGM “Competition” revealed significant disrepair of the equipment on the modern battlefield. The failure rate (failure) during launch was 68%, not to mention the low efficiency of the missile, which is aimed at the target via a wired connection. In fact, the use of these morally and physically obsolete as the Soviet complexes unmask troop position and exposes the anti-tank crews to greater danger than the purpose for which the complex is aimed.

FGM-148 “Javelin” is prohibited for use on the first line of defence.

The only effective means of anti-tank combat in the Armed Forces of Ukraine are the “Stugna-P”  and  “Corsair” complexes, made domestically. These complexes have proven their almost 100% effectiveness in combat use in repelling and deterring Russian aggression in Ukraine. The complexes are in great demand in the international arms markets, which is additional evidence of the quality of these domestic anti-tank systems.

Provision of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with missiles for the Corsair complex is 10% of demand, and 50% of demand for the Stugna-P . The need is calculated on the basis of the declared “silence” at the front and is very low.

The total number of Stugna-P and Corsair launchers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including warehouses and arsenals, is not more than 300 and 100 units, respectively. At the same time, the minimum need of the Armed Forces, taking into account the number of Russian armoured vehicles at our borders, is at least 1,500 Stugna-P launchers and 500 Corsair launchers.

In conditions which lend to the enemy’s armoured forces, the main means of anti-tank defence, which can be quickly scaled to the parity of existing threats from a potential ground offensive operation of the enemy using heavy armoured vehicles, are exclusively modern anti-tank missile systems.

The manufacturer of the Stugna-P and  Corsair complexes, Kyiv Design Bureau “Luch”, currently has insufficient capacity to prepare a military deterrence to destroy enemy armour in the case of a possible attack

Modern methods of military manoeuvres have revealed the need to increase the mobility of anti-tank unit and to create motorized infantry units for anti-tank combat. Self-propelled anti-tank Soviet missile systems – 9P148 with missiles “Competition” based on BRDM-2 and “Sturm-C” are obsolete and need to be replaced by modern, wheeled, high-throughput armoured platforms, equipped with combat modules with domestic anti-aircraft missiles such as “Stugna-P” and all-weather means of guidance and fire control.

Such domestic motorized anti-tank systems should become the main means of repelling and deterring aggression in the event of massive use of enemy tanks and other armoured vehicles. That is why, in order to ensure reliable anti-tank defence, it is necessary to immediately increase the state defence order for domestic anti-tank systems and simulators for them. Resolve the possibility of using FGM-148 “Javelin” on the first line of defence and conduct appropriate training to prepare missile calculations. They should also review the staff lists (number, readiness) of anti-tank combat units in the military units of the Armed Forces and conduct intensive training to increase their level of readiness.

The following problems should be noted in the issue of providing the Armed Forces with jet and artillery means:

  • A more than 18-month delay in the tests of 2C22 “Bogdan” – a promising Ukrainian wheeled self-propelled howitzer-gun of NATO caliber 155 mm.
  • Significant deficit from the need for rounds/ shells for the 152-mm howitzer gun 2A36 “Hyacinth”, D-20, 100-mm MT-12 anti-tank gun systems.
  • Limited state order of RZSV “Alder” and delay in financing and coordination of works on the commissioning and launch of production of a promising modification to “Alder-M”.

These issues need to be addressed immediately with an appropriate adjustment of the DOZ for the current and next years.

To strengthen the firepower required in modern combat and the effectiveness of artillery use, we must urgently provide artillery units of the Armed Forces with modern positioning and guidance systems, as well as tactical drones for reconnaissance and fire correction. The government should also resume its own production of shells and mines, as well as modern explosive mixtures. The national artillery development strategy should aim for a complete departure from Soviet artillery systems through a gradual transition to NATO standard equipment (primarily 155 mm howitzer artillery). Such a strategy will ensure the compatibility of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ artillery armaments with NATO armies in terms of fire control and manoeuvring (in particular, increasing the range and accuracy of hitting targets),

In the naval field, Ukraine is forced into an all-out defence, because the potential of the Ukrainian Navy cannot even be compared with the Russian navy.

The Ukrainian Navy has one Soviet-era frigate from Project 1135 (Kryvak III according to NATO classification) – Hetman Sagaidachny, with a displacement of 3,510 tons. This ship is the flagship of the Ukrainian Navy, but the core of the country’s naval combat capability comes from 10 patrol boats of five different classes, each with a displacement of less than 300 tons, the vast majority of which displaces less than 170 tons.

In 2020, Ukraine announced large-scale procurement projects for the Ukrainian Navy:

  • With the United Kingdom – a memorandum on a loan for the purchase of missile boats and infrastructure development (up to $ 1.6 billion);
  • A contract with Turkey for the purchase of ADA project corvettes (up to $ 1.3 billion);
  • From the USA – contracts for the purchase of new Mark-6 patrol boats (up to $ 600 million) and a contract for the purchase of second-hand Island patrol boats;
  • With France – a contract for the purchase of patrol boats FPB-98 Mk.1 ($ 160 million) for the State Border Guard Service.

Ukraine will be in an extremely difficult situation if Russia decides to completely block shipping under the Ukrainian flag in the Black and Azov Seas.

The routes of ships in the Black Sea from the Bosporus to the ports of Ukraine pass through a narrow passage between the island of Snake and the Russian-occupied Ukrainian shelf of the Odessa gas field. This corridor is only 13.5 miles (25 km) wide.

An attack on Snake Island with its subsequent capture could allow Russia to ignore the borders of Ukraine’s exclusive economic zone and try to completely cut off our country from major sea routes.

47 additional boats and 5 corvettes that Ukraine is buying (plans to buy) will not change the balance of power in the Black Sea region and will not affect a possible theatre of operations. The same conclusion is contained in the text of the decision of the US State Department to allow the sale of 16 Mark VI boats to Ukraine for 600 million US dollars –  “The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” At the same time, the planned expenditures completely unbalance our defence budget.

The Ukrainian Navy has extremely limited potential, in particular, in coastal jets, artillery,and marines. To some extent, this was planned to be compensated by the widespread use of domestic anti-ship cruise missiles (RCC) “Neptune” ships, aircraft and coastal bases, which are capable of destroying any target in the Black and Azov Seas.

The Neptune Coastal Defense Complex has passed state tests but was included in the state defence order for 2021 in an amount that does not meet the minimum deployment needs – only one division was ordered compared to the originally planned three. The number of missiles in the single complex was even reduced, due to the decision to use a much more expensive transport chassis TATRA instead of the domestic KRAZ.

Plans to develop an aviation version of the cruise missile base (potential carriers may be Su-24 or Su-27) are lagged behind due to limited funding from the customer – the Ministry of Defence.

Due to the lack of funding, research and development work on the development of the ship version of the PKR “Neptune”, the project was suspended and, as a result, there was no construction at the plant “Kuznya na Rybalskomu” of the rocket and artillery boat (code “Doe”) – a potential domestic carrier for the PKR “Neptune.” In general, the situation regarding the prospects for the existence of a single domestic manufacturer of combat boats is uncertain, due to the commissioned investigation of certain criminal proceedings, which has led to interference in the current economic activities of the enterprise and complete blocking of its work.,

The existing concepts for the development of the Ukrainian Navy and its available resources do not create opportunities for long-term, autonomous, comprehensive, and offensive military operations on the high seas. Our capabilities are limited and in fact are reduced to participation in law enforcement operations, protection of the coast of the sea as part of a consolidated multi-role contingent.

The main means of repelling and deterring aggression from the sea are the available and promising models of jet, barrel artillery, multi-purpose and anti-ship missile systems, and the deployment of several modern coastal radars to detect aggressive intentions by the Black Sea Fleet and the Russian Federation.

Taking into account the existing and future capabilities of the Ukrainian Navy, in the short- and medium-term horizon, taking into account the above statistics of the potential density of fire damage by “Caliber” cruise missiles, which can be used for both ground and sea targets, the seas may be a strategy of closing access zones (A2 / AD) through anti-access area denial.

The implementation of strategy costal defence should be based on:

  • Priority use of domestic anti-ship cruise missile “Neptune” ship, aircraft and shore-based;
  • Promising domestic developments that can become a powerful means of deterring and repelling not only ground military threats, but also threats from the sea, namely, MLRS “Alder-M” and self-propelled 155 mm howitzers, which are demonstrating high accuracy of hitting targets at distances up to 100 km and 42 km, respectively, in ongoing tests.

Implementation of a strategy as an effective means to protect maritime borders and coasts will require a significant adjustment of the state defence order for 2021 and beyond.

Another passive way available to Ukraine to close access zones (A2 / AD) may be to mine the waters, although in modern conditions the effectiveness of this method is questionable and irrational, given the high transport value of the Black and Azov Seas.

The total volume of programs for the purchase of boats and other small-class warships for the Ukrainian Navy exceeds $ 4 billion. The volume of DOZ of the Ministry of Defense in 2021 is equivalent to 0.85 billion dollars. As the implementation of such public defence procurement projects does not change the balance of power in the Azov-Black Sea basin and does not ensure the closure of access zones (A2 / AD), the funding of such measures in the next two years does not seem rational and needs to be adjusted.

The Ukrainian Air Force is much less capable than the Russian Air Force, comprising of a total of about 100 Soviet-designed aircraft, including Su-27, MiG-29, Su-24, Su-25. The Air Force Park has not been replenished with new aircraft for 30 years. Ukraine’s military aircraft may run out of resources and lose combat capability in a maximum of 10 years, and its obsolescence can be stated today.

The average flight time of Ukrainian pilots is low – significantly less than the pilots of NATO and Russia. In 2020-2021, the number of trainings and other departures decreased compared to 2017-2019. Perhaps one of the reasons is the shortage of aviation kerosene, the first purchase of which took place only on July 6 2021, after a break of almost a year. The last two years have seen a mass dismissal of military pilots from the Armed Forces, in particular, those with combat experience. About 140 airmen have resigned from the Armed Forces over the past two years, and more than 40 officers want to resign this year.

The most dangerous impediment for the implementation of the priority tasks for national defense is the state of readiness of the air defences of the state. Even with urgent priority measures to ensure proper coordination of air defence units, they are not able to deter the enemy from a possible air offensive. The level of efficiency of the anti-aircraft missile systems does not exceed 9%. Even in full functioning condition, the system is shown to be incapable under conditions of active electromagnetic suppression and jamming, especially taking into account the abilities made available by the purchasing power of the Russian Federation.

According to official data, 5 anti-aircraft missile brigades and 6 anti-aircraft regiments are carrying out anti-aircraft missile cover tasks for groups of troops and important infrastructure facilities. However, their claimed abilities have questionable practical application.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine are supplied with about 40 separate anti-aircraft missile divisions (OZRDN), which are equipped with Buk, S-125, S-300P and S-300V complexes, which, however, are not all ready for deployment and have issues with missile serviceability. The amount of operational complexes does not exceed 30%.

The main technical problem of the systems is their lack of microwave devices – also known as klystrons. Unofficial stories of deliveries of klystrons from the Russian Federation have been revealed and were blocked by the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. Ukraine has no own domestic production of these devices. No steps have been taken recently to establish domestic production of this critical functional element of anti-aircraft missile systems.

The degree of wear on serviceable, installed,  or existing microwave devices in “S300P” anti-aircraft missile systems, as of today, is from 70% to 90%.

Another systemic problem of existing anti-aircraft missile systems is the approximation of the expiration dates of anti-aircraft guided missiles (ASM). 90% of the stock of ZKRs have a date of manufacture of 1985-1990. Under these current conditions, all planned projects to strengthen domestic air defence have been completely blocked for two years! The works started in 2017-2019 to create our own production of ZKR and SAM have been completely stopped.

There is an equally sad picture with air defence means on the battlefield. the Golka-1, a Soviet portable anti-aircraft missile system developed and adopted in 1981, and the Strela-2, a Soviet portable anti-aircraft missile system adopted by the USSR Armed Forces in 1968, are still in service.

Although the Golka-1 complex can be considered a fairly effective tool against certain types of air threats, the number of these MANPADS in the Armed Forces has significantly decreased due to misuse.

In 2018-2019, Ukraine signed a number of memoranda with enterprises of the Turkish defence industry on participation in the development and exchange of project under a program to create a family of short to long range surface-to-air missiles. This included HiSAR, developed by Turkish companies ASELSAN and ROKETSAN and subcontractors Tubitak Sage and Meteksan Savunma. Turkey was interested in cooperating with Ukraine on solid rocket fuel for anti-aircraft guided missiles, and Ukraine was to gain access to anti-aircraft technologies developed by Turkey. In 2020-2021, this cooperation was completely stopped, and NOT at the initiative of Turkey.

Given these problems, to protect the airspace of Ukraine, it is necessary to immediately determine a standard aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force, which should replace the fleet of obsolete Soviet aircraft in service with our army. This decision needs to be adopted immediately due to the fact that its implementation requires complex negotiations with world leaders on the production of military aircraft, and to reserve significant financial resources and provide state guarantees for long-term credit lines and flight training. During the transition period, the country must carry out deep modernization of its existing platforms, in particular, MiG-29s, within the framework of military-technical cooperation with leading companies from our strategic partners, taking into account the experience of the Azerbaijani Air Force.

On the basis of prospective developments of the Ukrainian defence industry, there are all the necessary preconditions for the creation of an unarmed strike aircraft for use at operational-tactical and operational levels. It is necessary to start combat use of the Bayraktar UAV to gain experience and tactics of using unmanned aerial vehicles.

The government must urgently resume work and provide funding for the project to create a domestic medium range anti-aircraft missile system (up to 100 km) on the basis of developments of the KKB “Ray.”

Statements made by the military-political leadership of Ukraine regarding the purchase of Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems (USA) do not correspond to our financial capabilities. A highly efficient and much cheaper solution is a modified missile system manufactured by Raytheon (USA) – the SLAMRAAM (Surface Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile).

The SLAMRAAM complex, consisting of four AMRAAM radar guided missiles, is mounted on a mobile ground platform, in particular, on the HUMVEE platform (known as the Hummer in Ukraine). For reference:  The AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) is an all-weather guided medium-range missile. Missiles of this class are designed to hit air targets outside the line of sight of the target (Beyond Visual Range (BVR)).

Over the past few years, such complexes have been approved for sale by the US Department of State under the US Department of Defence’s Foreign Military Sales Programs to fulfil orders from the governments of Oman, Indonesia, Lithuania, Australia, India and Hungary.

These complexes could become an effective replacement for the obsolete SAM “Buk” and “Kub” and could be used to protect the critical infrastructure of the state. The wheelbase will provide high mobility and the ability to quickly relocate on their own on public roads.

Ukraine can localize the production of mobile platforms in its domestic production base, so creating a complex will require foreign supplies of only combat units.

In view of the above, it is proposed to petition the US Government, as part of the military assistance program, for the transfer to Ukraine of SLAMRAAM air defence systems, as well as portable anti-aircraft systems MANPADS “Stinger” (Stinger), and general military index FIM-92, manufactured by “General Dynamics” USA. These are designed to hit low-flying air targets (aircraft, helicopters, UAVs). We must urgently resume cooperation with Turkey under the HISAR surface-to-air missile system joint development program.

Understanding the priority of providing the Armed Forces with weapons and military equipment, given the existing threats, as well as the training of personnel, is of fundamental importance. But this cannot be a full-fledged guarantee of state security. Currently, Ukraine is deprived of weapons of strategic importance that could deter the aggressor. The only thing that in our current condition could deter Russia from full-scale military action against our country – is the enemy’s understanding of the inevitability of unprecedented losses, which completely offset the gains of the offensive.

One of the main tools for inflicting such losses on the enemy should be an extensive and effective system of territorial defence (TRO). Every region, every settlement of our country must become a fortress capable of ruthlessly grinding down the enemy’s manpower, quickly neutralizing its landing and sabotage units, and reliably defending strategic military and infrastructural facilities.

In the conditions of the military aggression of the Russian Federation in 2014, the foundations were laid for building a SRW system in Ukraine. Terrorist defence battalions were established in each region, on the basis of which territorial defence brigades were formed over time. In July 2021, the Law with the bright title “On the basis of national resistance” was adopted. Such an ambitious name was needed by the Office of the President in order to knock out of consideration much earlier balanced bills on SRW. But lately, apart from public relations and loud patriotic slogans, no practical measures have been taken in this important area. In order not to turn this crucial issue for the country’s defence capabilities into another PR issue for the government, it is necessary to develop and adopt legislation instead of mere slogans and wishes, and to provide a detailed plan for training and the deployment of SRW forces in times of need, including by identifying and ensuring the real need for weapons, ammunition, personnel, special forces and other equipment, logistics, etc. They must provide staffing, training and education to SRW units and services. They must also determine the combat objectives, strategy and tactics of the SRO forces, taking into account the specifics and characteristics of each region.

Complex tasks, in particular, conducting hostilities under full encirclement or in the behind enemy lines, requires the formation of TRO units solely on a voluntary basis. The heroic history and traditions of the volunteer movement in Ukraine are the key to the effective implementation of this task.

The selection, moral and psychological condition and training of SALW fighters must ensure not only a high level of possession of weapons, but also confidence in their safe storage.

Of course, this is not a complete list of priorities for the so-called “Plan-B”. The issue of strategic planning, modern approaches to troop management, acquisition of operational capabilities, communications, logistics, etc. needs special detail. But the main point is that, under difficult and dangerous conditions, the country must be able to defend itself when it becomes the basis of state policy and daily professional work.