By Isabel van Brugen | NewsWeek Source |
Russia’s air force is struggling to support Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine because of combat losses, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said Friday.
In its daily intelligence update, the ministry said Russia is being forced to deploy retired pilots to operate warplanes because of high casualty numbers.
Russia has moved to using retired personnel who are now working as contractors for Wagner, a Russian private military company, to conduct close air support missions, the ministry said.
“Ukrainian forces have announced that the pilot of a Russian Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft shot down on 17 June was captured shortly afterwards,” its latest update said.
“The pilot has confessed to being a former Russian air force Major, who had taken employment as a Wagner military contractor and had flown several missions during the conflict.”
The ministry said that the use of retired personnel, now working as Wagner contractors, indicates that the Russian air force likely is struggling to support the invasion of Ukraine with sufficient aircrew, and that this is likely due to a combination of Russia’s insufficient numbers of suitably trained personnel and its combat losses.
“Whilst conducting his missions, the Russian pilot reportedly used commercial GPS devices rather than Russian military navigation equipment,” the update said. “This likely indicates that Wagner aircraft are older models of the Su-25 and that the Russian air force is not providing Wagner with up-to-date avionics equipment.”
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