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Ukraine’s air defense improved fourfold since start of Russian invasion

S300 ukraine air defense
The S300 air defense complex. File photo
Ukraine’s air defense improved fourfold since start of Russian invasion

At the start of Russia’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine’s air defense intercepted only around 12–18% of Russian cruise missiles, according to a report by the RUSI think tank. Now, in the best of days, this indicator reaches 88%.

Russia’s shock attack started with mass missile strikes from sea, air, and ground launch systems, which were preceded by electronic attacks that damaged Ukraine’s radars. This all presented a challenge for Ukraine’s air defense.

Ukrainian short-range Buk air defense missile / Photo credit: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

“Given the orders to redeploy Ukrainian forces [seven hours before the invasion], the damage and disruption to [command and control], the unexpected concentration on the Gomel axis, and the forced displacement of systems, many Ukrainian systems were alive, but uncoordinated for the initial 24 hours. A significant proportion of the air-defense infrastructure survived but was not in a position to conduct a coordinated defence. Instead, it largely delivered pop-up attacks against Russian forces,” RUSI notes.

However, Russia with time and with the influx of western air defense weapons, Ukraine got better at shooting down Russian cruise missiles: during the best days, it reaches 88%.

Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and success rate of Ukraine’s air defense

Date of missile strike

Missiles launched

Missiles intercepted

Percent of success

Type of missiles

October 10




Kh-101, Kh-555, Iskander

October 18




October 22




Kh-101, Kh-555, Kalibr

October 31




Kh-101, Kalibr, Kh-59

November 15




Kh-101, Kh-555, Kalibr

November 17




Kh-101, Kh-59, Kh-55 without nuclear warhead

November 23




Kalibr, Kh-101,  Kh-555

The effectiveness has risen from 12–18% on the first day of war up to nearly 50–90%. This improvement is explained by the fact that Ukrainian air defense units received valuable experience over these 9 months of Russian missile shelling, as well as ever-increasing supplies of western modern air defense systems to Ukraine, such as NASAMS or IRIS-T, the Ukrainian portal Defense Express writes.

German IRIS-T anti-air defense system defends Kyiv: PHOTOS

Terror from the sky: a guide to Russian missiles used against Ukraine and how to stop them

97% of Russian missile attacks target civilian objects – Ukraine’s defense minister


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