Ukraine is successfully fending off Russian missile attacks. The supplies of defensive weapons from the Soviet era are exhausted. Kyiv urgently needs a medium-range air defense system, for which there are enough ammunition.

For two months, Russia has been targeting the power supply in Ukraine. So far, it has been possible to temporarily switch off the power grid in entire regions, but it has not been possible to permanently cut off the supply of electricity.

This is due to the effective air defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. According to their information, only about 15 percent of Russian missiles hit the target. While it’s possible that the numbers are a bit tweaked, it’s safe to assume that the majority of attacks will be intercepted.

But this success is only half a victory. Because Kiev’s stocks of interceptor missiles and ammunition, for example for the Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, are dwindling rapidly. In addition to the current battles in the airspace, there is a strategic war. And it deals with the question: Who will run out of ammunition first? Is Russia unable to continue its missile offensive? Or will Kyiv at some point no longer be able to intercept Russian missiles because the magazines with anti-missile missiles are empty?

Moscow exhausts air defenses

In this light, the defensive success looks different. Russia is launching its missiles and missiles with the aim of exhausting Ukraine’s air defenses. Moscow enjoys a structural advantage here: Kiev’s air defense must also target cheap Iranian-made drones, because if they are not shot down, their impact on the energy network is just as devastating as a hit by a high-tech missile. A very expensive counter missile is consumed to shoot down a drone powered by a better moped engine.

There are signs that Russia is deploying more old, actually discarded missiles. One reason is that stocks of modern precision weapons are running out, another is sure that Moscow wants to fire as many weapons as possible on Ukraine.

The second structural advantage: Ukraine has so far managed to get the power grid back into operation. But the constant damage is taking its toll on the network, making it more and more fragile. Means: More hits leave more and more damage in the house of cards of the power supply.

No replenishment of Soviet weapons

The core of the Ukrainian air defense continues to consist of old S300 and Buk systems. The modern defensive weapons supplied by the West have so far had a limited range. They protect only one target or at most one region. In order to protect the decentralized energy network, Kyiv is dependent on the old Soviet weapons. In order to increase the likelihood of a launch, Kyiv follows the standard practice of firing two S300s or Buks at each Russian missile. But the ammunition and spare parts for these systems are running out, and there are said to be hardly any stocks outside of Russia. Kyiv has previously received missiles from Slovakia.

Should Kyiv run out of BUK and S-300 missiles, much of the country would be left without protection. Then it is to be feared that Moscow will send swarms of ballistic missiles and drones on their way. Also, the way could be free to deploy heavy bombers at least over parts of Ukraine. That would be fatal, because the bomb load and thus the destructive effect of a bomber is much higher than that of a cruise missile. A Russian Kalibr missile has a maximum warhead of 500 kilograms. A Tu-95 “Bear” bomber, on the other hand, can carry over 50 tons of weapons.

System with ammunition stores

It is therefore important that Ukraine quickly gets new air defense systems. longer range systems. The Patriot protects an area of ​​160 kilometers radius – which is about the range of the most developed missiles for the S-300 system. And the Patriot has another advantage: it has stocks of missiles that could, at least in principle, be delivered to Kyiv. Brand new systems like the Iris-T system have the disadvantage that they are new to the market and there are no states that have stockpiled ammunition for them. The demand here has to be met from current production, which will not suffice for the war in Ukraine. The United States and its allies are ramping up the production of missiles, Manpads and artillery ammunition – but these programs will not produce results until spring at the earliest. After much hesitation, it now looks as if the USA will deliver the Patriots after all.