w/c 13th February 2023
Air superiority is a prerequisite for successful operations by manoeuvring armoured formations; without it they are very vulnerable to attack from above. So to go on the offensive they need better, more modern aircraft that their enemy, and they need them quickly and in numbers.
Why the USA is reluctant to countenance its issue to Ukraine is beyond me, for it must already be well-known to Russia and it is no longer the NATO aircraft of choice anyway, having been largely superseded by more modern and sophisticated aircraft. And as for fear of escalation, well, the war is pretty escalated already, isn’t it?
Despite my earlier predictions that the Ukrainians might be the first out of the traps, it now looks as if the Russians may well attack first. In fact according to some observers they have started already with an upsurge of attacks in the Donbas. It may be that instead of a sudden explosion in offensive operations their Spring offensives will be more of a ramping up of operations that have been underway for some time.
That’s the primary reason why Zelensky’s tour of European capitals took place last week. His pleas for additional long range precision artillery and missile systems, plus Ukraine’s need for modern fast jet fighter aircraft, is precisely so they can contemplate taking the offensive against their invaders. Without the means to achieve at least local air superiority their task becomes much more difficult.
The discovery of a high-flying Chinese observation balloon over the USA caused a few red faces in Washington last week. Eventually it was shot down by a F-22 Raptor fighter into the Atlantic off the coast of Carolina, where recovery operations are underway, but to get there it obviously transited across the whole of the continental USA.
What’s going on here? Well, either the appropriate authorities in the USA, Canada, and elsewhere have hitherto been unaware of these transgressions, which would be worrying, or that they have known all along but have allowed them to continue for some other purposes. Perhaps we will find out which it is in due course.
Lt Col Stuart Crawford’s latest book Tank Commander (Hardback) is available now