S300 ukraine air defense

The S300 air defense complex. File photo 


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 ~

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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