Fatal mistakes in the air war that Ukraine should note. The main news from the front by Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper



Fatal mistakes in the air war that Ukraine should note. The main news from the front by Tom Cooper

No idea how to start this one: over the last two years, I’ve written so many of these ‘summaries’ and ‘updates’, I’m slowly running out of fresh ideas.

Perhaps I should observe that, sadly, today I can only add a few additional examples for ‘commanding skills’… sad, because it’s examples from the ‘wrong side’…?

Ah well.



Germany has delivered the third Patriot SAM-battery to Ukraine (SAM = surface-to-air missile). I’m mentioning this precisely because it’s ‘done’, as opposed to usual ‘pledges’ and similar ‘Western’ nonsense.

If my count is not wrong, the PSU should thus now have a total of five Patriot battalions in operation. Which is even more so important because latest of Russian missile strikes on PSU’s units have shown that…. well, to express this ‘diplomatically’: not all the commanders there are of the similar quality like the staff of the ‘roaming’ 138th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (the first PSU unit to operate Patriots).

What am I talking about?

About things I do not really like to talk about.

Up front: yes, I’m perfectly aware, ‘gauging’ an air war ‘on basis of few videos’ is never a good idea. But, in this case I can’t hold back because the way I know them – and I happen to know a few from all over the world – ‘SAM-people’ are very smart people. Very realistic, objective, both feet on the ground -people.

Thus, and quite to my surprise: in the following cases… well, cannot but agree with conclusions that there is nothing smart to be seen.

Myrhorod Air Base (AB)… After the Russians have pounded the local AB with their Iskander-Ms for days, somebody there (in Ukraine) came up with a super-smart idea: how about deploying one of PSU’s S-300 SAM-systems to ‘bolster air defences’?

Because – and despite all the Russian claims (and ‘Western confirmations’) of the last 30-40 years – by now one thing is but 1000% sure: the S-300 simply can’t shot ballistic missiles.

What a surprise then, the firing unit in question was not only detected by Russian UAVs, but promptly blasted straight to Mars by another Iskander-M


Additionally… the Russian UAVs found and guided another Iskander-M straight into the position of one of PSU’s P-18 radars, too.

As nicely counted by Aleksandar here, this is already the 18th Ukrainian radar of this type destroyed by Russian missiles since 1 January 2024. 18th radar in six months…

Ah, ‘but the P-18 is old and probably used as a decoy’? Sure, I do hope the PSU is ‘still’ and ‘actually’ using them as decoys, in style of what I’ve described here(arguably, I’ve used a P-15 in that example). But, I would have expected it to do so with one of older P-15s, or P-19s, P-30s or P-37s.


For your easier orientation: the PSU entered the war with a total of some 30 P-18 radars. Nearly all were upgraded to the P-18MA (Aerotekhnika-MLT) and P-18MU Malkhit (Ukrspetstechnika) standards so that instead of two trucks and two trailers, plus support equipment, their elements were 'compressed' to just two trucks (one for the antenna and the other for the equipment and generator)...

Therefore, I cannot but promptly ask: and why use upgraded radars as decoys….?

One way or the other… hand on heart: man, this is painful to watch (and to write). And, considering it could be (there’s at least a distant probability) that SAM-people are ‘slightly harder’ to replace than infantry-people, I’m not sure scenes of this kind are something ZSU’s and PSU’s recruiters can use for any kind of purposes, either…


The last night (from 6 to 7 July), the Russians streamed 13 Shahed attack UAVs into Ukraine: the PSZSU claimed all 13 as shot down – or spoofed to crash.

Around the same time… well, the Russians do have their own sense of humour, too. As first, their social media claimed ‘all (Ukrainian) UAVs shot down’. Then somebody ‘screamed’ about ‘some explosions’ in the Voronezh area, then it turned that ‘something’ blew up an ammo depot in the Voronezh area, and the latest reports are in style of, ‘all traffic in the district is blocked’…. Videos of ‘nothing happened’ are near-certain to follow…

Ah yes: at least the 19th Missile Brigade (ZSU) knows how to do its job. About three days ago, in the Toretsk area, it HIMARS-ed the ‘Lipetsk Tactical Unit’ (ex-Wagner PMC) really well. Word is, out of some 55 troops, the commander and about 20 others were k…. erm… kuddled, another 25 were de-nazified, and just 8 left to run away… Ever since, half the Russian social media is in tears…



In general, the Russian superiorities in the air and in the number of troops are starting to seriously show, and that every single day. Because they can bomb forward ZSU positions with UMPKs, multiple-rocket launchers, and artillery, they can continue sending their troops to seize these, and neither the PSU nor the ZSU have a solution on hand: all the Ukrainian ground forces can continue doing is keeping forward positions thinly occupied, so to minimalize their exposure to the Russian air strikes – and thus own losses – while trying to strike the Russians when they are exposed in the open, i.e. advancing on these positions.

The only thing something like ‘positive’ is that reports are indicating that the ZSU artillery is meanwhile firing as many shells as the Russian. At least in most of ‘critical’ sectors of the frontline…

Northern Kharkiv… RUMINT has it that the ZSU has, finally, recovered Hlyboke. In turn, the Russians are back to assaulting the centre of Vovchansk, and might have re-connected to their troops encircled in the Agregator Works.

Siversk… Bilohorivka (the one on the Siversky Donets) is still holding out, but: the Russians are pushing hard from Zolotarivka on Verkhnokamianske, have seized most of Spirne, and seem to have pushed Ukrainians out of Rozdolivka.

Bakhmut… RUMINT has it the ZSU has recovered Lozdolivka… it’s not going to ring many bells, so let me add that this is a place north of Bakhmut, seized by the Russians about a week ago. Foremost, the Russians seem to have secured all of the Kanal District in eastern Chasiv Yar. The last evening, they were pushing like mad into Kaynivka (north of Kanal) and, once again, over the underground section of the Siversky Donets – Donbas Canal, south of the town.

Toretsk… the Russians continued pushing into Druzhba, and, seems, a battalion of the 47th Mech was re-deployed to this area: run a ‘counterattack’ of sorts… 1 Bradley and 6 troops… What a surprise the Russians meanwhile secured Yurivka and are in the outskirts of Novhorodske…

Avdiivka-Pokrovsk…there’s now a lots of denial (from the Ukrainian side) about the Russians seizing Tarasivka. Word is, the place is too well protected for that, and the NASA’s FIRMS-satellite photos showing numerous fires there have all been caused by fields burning after being hit by the Russian artillery. OK, but why then so many big fires in the middle of the village?

Guess, we’ll have to wait and see what happened there.

Further south, the 90th Tank Division is pushing forward on a wide front, north and south of Yevhenivka, which the ZSU seems to have vacated. Similar is valid for the Yasnobrodivka area.



Nowadays, one is almost relieved to read that the Russians are ‘still busy’ pushing into northern Staromaiorske, and – despite all the air strikes by UMPKs – can’t get into Urozhaine.


Let me end this one with some self-critique and something ‘from the lighter side’: indeed, a good example for what are 35+ years in this ‘business’ doing to one’s mind (in this case: mine).

It’s nothing personal, and actually, I can’t care less what are people wearing (indeed: not even what I’m wearing), but, when seeing this photo:

….couldn’t hold back my associations:

‘Obviously’, I thought to myself, ‘the lady in the background would be a though target even for best skippers of German U-Boots… regardless if in the First- or the Second World War’.

The content is published with the permission of the author. First published here.​​​​

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