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Russia now adds guided air bombs to deadly missile & drone attack mix

In the first such registered case of a “new level of complexity aimed at overwhelming air defense,” Russia launched air bombs simultaneously with its usual mix
Russians drop an airbomb on a hospital in Beryslav on 7 October 2023
Russia now adds guided air bombs to deadly missile & drone attack mix

According to Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern defense forces, Russia employed new tactics in recent strikes on October 20-21 involving simultaneous use of various missiles, drones, and air bombs, Texty reported.

Humeniuk stated that “this is definitely an attempt by the enemy to inflict a missile strike as effectively as possible, because they know that we cannot work on guided air bombs.”

She noted that this is the time that Russia used cruise missiles and guided air bombs were used simultaneously, ading that “there is an intensification of tactical aviation, the use of ground-based missile systems and missile launches along with guided air bombs.”

On October 21, the attack involved guided air bombs being directed at frontline territories and cruise missiles like the Kh-59 fired at deeper civilian targets. She said this coordination of various missiles and drones represented a new level of complexity aimed at overwhelming Ukraine’s defenses.

According to Ukraine’s southern defense forces, three missiles aimed at Mykolaiv, Kherson and Odesa oblasts failed to reach their targets on October 21, detonating in the air instead.

Later, a Kh-59 cruise missile struck the outskirts of Kryvyi Rih, killing one and injuring another civilian in an attack on a dacha cooperative area that damaged three buildings. Concurrently with the launch of guided air bombs on frontline territories, tactical aviation aircraft fired Kh-59 missiles at Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts. Those strikes hit open areas without harming people.

Overnight, the enemy also carried out a combined attack on Kryvyi Rih using Iskander-K cruise missiles and Shahed-131/136 drones. An industrial facility suffered building damage, but a resulting fire was quickly extinguished. There were no casualties reported.

Russian cruise missiles aerial bomb attacks
Map of the route of the Russian aerial attacks on 20-21 October 2023. by Texty based on reports of the War Monitor telegram channel, which reports about Russian missile and drone attacks. Cruise missile trajectories are in red, Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones are in yellow, and guided aerieal bombs in blue. Voznesensk and Kryvyi Rih were hit. 

Russian guided air bombs are aerial bombs that have been modified with wings and a satellite control system to allow them to glide towards their targets with high precision. They are also known as glide bombs or smart bombs.

Russia has ramped up its use of these weapons against Ukraine, mainly to hit targets in the border areas and the regions adjacent to the occupied territories, in spring 2023. 

Ukraine cannot shoot down all Russian guided air bombs, because they are too numerous and would deplete the Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile supplies. The Ukrainian military expert Oleh Katkov said that the main task of the Air Force is to prevent Russian warplanes and helicopters from appearing in the Ukrainian sky, and that Ukraine needs modern F-16 aircraft and Western systems to combat Russian aviation. Another military spokesman said that Ukraine needs fighter jets and long-range air defense to go after the Russian planes that drop the bombs.

Ukraine also has its own GPS-guided bombs that can be tossed from a safe distance behind Russian lines.

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