Britain’s military intelligence has confirmed Ukraine’s missile strike on the Belbek airbase radar in Russian-occupied Crimea on 31 January.
Up until now, details of damaged targets originated solely from anonymous Ukrainian Telegram channels, while Russia claimed all incoming missiles had been intercepted.
“On 31 January 2024, Ukraine conducted a strike on Russia’s Belbek airbase in Crimea, resulting in the destruction of a radar control coordination facility bunker. This will almost certainly degrade Russia’s ability to coordinate air activity in the Black Sea region,” the UK defense ministry report states.
Analysts assess the loss will further tax Russia’s fleet of A-50 Mainstay command and control aircraft, in addition to reducing the pool of trained air controllers. Russian military doctrine leans heavily on ground-based air coordination centers to coordinate its airborne assets – a dependence that becomes exaggerated amidst intense air warfare.
The report adds that cumulative fatigue among Russian aircrews and installations like Belbek increasingly risks mistakes and misjudgements within Russia’s strained command structure. The elimination of additional command bunkers will only exacerbate these pressures.