February 4, 2023

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Ukraine still owns a "significant majority" of its military aircraft - US official

Ukraine still owns a “significant majority” of its military aircraft – US official

A Ukrainian Air Force fighter plane takes off during a maneuver in the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine on November 23, 2021. Command of the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces / Published via Reuters / FILE PHOTO

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. defense official said on Friday that Ukraine still had a “large majority” of its military aircraft available, nine days after Russian forces began invading the country.

Military experts have surprised military experts who are significantly outnumbered by the Russian army, both in terms of initial numbers and firepower, and the fact that the Ukrainian Air Force is still flying and its air defenses are still viable. Read more

“The Ukrainians still have a large majority of their air combat power, whether it’s fixed-wing, rotary-wing, unmanned and surface-to-air systems,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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The official added that the Ukrainian planes suffered some losses, including their destruction by Russian forces, but did not give details.

After the first attacks of the war on February 24, analysts predicted that the Russian military would attempt to immediately destroy the Ukrainian air force and air defenses.

Russia has fired more than 500 missiles at Ukrainian targets since the start of the invasion, but they still fly through the contested airspace.

Ukrainian forces carrying surface-to-air missiles are capable of threatening Russian aircraft and posing a threat to Russian pilots trying to support ground forces.

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Experts say Ukraine’s ability to continue flying its Air Force planes is a clear indication of the country’s resilience in the face of attack and has been a morale for the Ukrainian army and people.

answer the phone

The Pentagon has set up a new hotline with the Russian Defense Ministry to prevent “miscalculation, military accidents, and escalation” in the region as the Russian invasion of Ukraine progresses.

The “deconfliction” hotline will be an open telephone line based at European Command headquarters and subject to Air Force General Todd Walters, who commands all US forces on the continent.

“In our initial testing, (the Russians) answered the phone,” the official said.

Russian forces were still 25 kilometers from downtown Kyiv and had not changed much over the past few days.

The official compared the Odessa scenario to the Russian offensive around Mariupol, where they used an amphibious assault to the southwest using marine infantry and also landed from the north with ground forces outside Donetsk.

“So one could see a scenario where this would be a similar play,” the official said.

The official said the United States could not refute reports that Russian forces were in control of the port city of Kherson, but added that the United States could not confirm the capture.

The provincial governor Hanadi Lagota said in an online post on Thursday that tanks entered Kherson, the capital of the province with a population of about 250,000 people, and Russian forces occupied the regional administration building.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idris Ali) Editing by Jonathan Otis

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