Issue 5, 19 February 2022

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Today’s issue will look at the increased presence of the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (VKS) near Ukraine.

  • The Russian ground forces’ presence near Ukraine is accompanied by an increase in Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (VKS) activity;
  • The VKS is prepositioning its assets across the entire theatre, from Northern Belarus to Crimea;
  • The deployment includes almost all combat and logistics platforms available within the VKS: new fixed-wing airframes include Su-24s, Su-25s, Su-30SMs, Su-34s, or MiG-31s. Rotary-wing assets include Mi-8s/Mi-17s, Mi-26s for the provision of logistics and mobility capabilities. Combat airframes include Mi-24s, Mi-28Ns, and Ka-52s;
  • The VKS is reshuffling its assets in Western and Southern Military Districts so it is unclear how many aircraft were redeployed from within these districts and how many came from other parts of Russia;
  • Yet, the SMD alone fields some 250 fixed-wing aircraft (includes units in Crimea). The WMD can generate an additional 150 airframes (excluding Kaliningrad) for a total of 400 combat aircraft. Assuming 70% of the fleet is available, this gives some 280 aircraft ready to take part in combat operations.
  • The map below presents some of the new deployments near Ukraine. Airframes in white indicate a new presence. The text in yellow shows airframes that are stationed permanently at a base.


Slightly diverting from the VKS, below is another map, which shows military presence near Belgorod. As you can see there is a lot going on there. However, I am certain that we are only seeing a fraction of the movement. If Russia decides to attack, the Belgorod-Valuyki line will be one of the major staging areas for operations against Ukraine.