Classic military operations and psychological operations in the Ukraine & Russia war. All war is carried out through classic military operations and psychological operations that can be effective enough to deter the enemy and save wear and tear and human and material losses, which are much more expensive (Géré, 1997). The good use of both is part of the general military strategy to dissuade the enemy, undermine their combat morale, reinforce and maintain the combat morale of the troops, legitimize their own cause, while delegitimizing the cause of the enemy ( Madrón, 1992). In such a way that psychological operations cannot be implemented in isolation because they do not produce expected effects, it is necessary to apply military logic that provides for the use of physical operations that reinforce the results of the former, such as the important role of MANPADS to affect the Russian air invasion in the Ukraine and where much has been made of the defunct Russian air force.
In the past article he wrote titled Lessons Learned in the Ukrainian War at OFCS. Report in the international section spoke about the importance of MANPADS and said that the use of advanced anti-aircraft systems in Ukraine is forcing rusian pilots to fly at low altitude, giving these portable systems a better chance of hitting, capable of shooting down planes and helicopters.
The war is acquiring a low cost in relation to some systems. The economy is crucial in any armed conflict, the balance of costs in some sectors makes it difficult not only to act but also to make it profitable.
On February 24, 2022, NATO provided kyiv with a large amount of military hardware. Among this material they highlight the shipment (according to the data available on March 6, 2022) almost 17,000 MANPADS.
MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System) are short-range surface-to-air missiles (between 4 and 7 kilometers) capable of challenging air dominance at low altitude. Their low cost and flexibility of use (shot from the shoulder or from a simple tripod) will make them ideal weapons in the context of a hybrid or asymmetric conflict such as the one currently experienced in that area of Europe.
Their ease of use also allows civilian personnel, with little military training, to use them effectively after a short training and, in addition, they offer an excellent cost/benefit ratio. There is, however, some concern about the risk of its uncontrolled proliferation. (Narcoterrorism.- Like the equipment that Venezuela acquired and that can be supplied to guerrilla groups in Latin America and transnational organized crime groups such as drug cartels and other terrorist groups. In recent years; Drug traffickers have used these devices against the Mexican government).
But we have another example when the MANPADS supplied by the Americans to the mujahideen during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1989), were instrumental in wearing down Soviet air power. It is estimated that the Stinger and RedEye missiles enabled the mujahideen to destroy 269 Soviet aircraft.
After the conflict, the United States government organized a Stinger buy-back program, offering up to $100,000 for each one, due to the danger that this entailed in the event that they could later be in the hands of various Afghan factions after the Russian evacuation in 1989.
It must be borne in mind that with a single MANPADS you can easily bring down a civilian plane and we must remember that despite the means used to recover it, several units were still in the hands of the Taliban when the Americans invaded the country in 2001.
However, in the current conflict in Ukraine, the use by the Ukrainian resistance also seems effective. The massive contribution of MANPADS by NATO, through Romania and Poland, has favored the reconfiguration of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses towards a kind of guerrilla, which is based on the harassment with MANPADS of Russian aircraft that fly at low altitude. .
Their small size allows the guerrillas to camouflage themselves anywhere (other than the open field) and since only one person is needed to fire the missile, they are difficult to detect and their massive use makes their neutralization practically impossible.
Despite the lack of reliable figures on the number of aircraft lost or damaged, the available data (as of July 1) indicated that 18% of the Russian aircraft shot down were due to the action of these portable missiles.
This Russian vulnerability is explained both by its doctrine, in which the intensive use of helicopters predominates, and by the scarcity of guided bombs, which forces pilots to fly at medium and low altitude, following predictable flight paths, in order to be able to Visualize attacking targets. They have also proven effective against drones and cruise missiles.
MANPADS can use several guidance systems, for example infrared (they go towards a heat source) the most common, to defend against these missiles, the most effective countermeasures are infrared decoys. Basically, they are flares that create a heat source, towards which the missile is directed, allowing the aircraft to escape.
These infrared decoys are effective against certain missiles, such as the Soviet SA-7 or SA-14 models, but not as effective against more modern models such as the British Starstreak or the Polish Piorun.
MANPADS, on the other hand, are not effective against the latest generation aircraft and lately, the Russian Aerospace Forces have improved the self-protection of their aircraft, implementing active defense systems such as the President-SL370-5 capable of detecting the launch point of a MANPAD and to warn the pilot so that he can launch decoys and perform evasive maneuvers.
The proliferation of MANPADS poses a threat to aircraft, both civil and military. Since 1975, 60 civilian aircraft have been shot down using MANPADS, killing more than 1,000 people.
Russia is one of the world’s leading exporters of MANPADS, with the 9K38 Igla/SA-18 model being the most common, with 10,000 units sold between 2010 and 2018, mainly to Iraq, Venezuela and Libya.
China and North Korea are also major exporters of these weapons. The United States government estimated in 2004 that there were more than 500,000 MANPADS in circulation worldwide, many of them in the hands of non-state armed groups.
Although this estimate is old, it is still valid as a reference, despite the destruction since 2003 of more than 40,000 MANPADS from the arsenals of former Warsaw Pact countries, under the impetus of a disarmament program led by the Office of Foreign Affairs. United States Department of State Politico-Military.
The proliferation of MANPADS in Ukraine is necessary for the Ukrainians to maintain the war effort, however, it is important to prevent arms trafficking in Europe in the medium and long term. There is fear of an increase in the supply of these weapons on the black market, which could fall into the hands of criminal or terrorist organizations, with the potential threat that this could pose to air traffic.
Despite these risks, MANPADS remain a special case in the texts governing arms transfers. The 2008 common European position on arms exports, for example, does not explicitly address their status.
Its use in the context of the war in Ukraine could ultimately promote a redefinition of export control procedures in this segment. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs may be implemented, in parallel with tracing measures, in an attempt to limit or prevent trafficking in these munitions.
For now Britain is supplying Ukraine with its latest generation of STARStreak missiles Russia failed to knock out the Ukrainian network of long-range, radar-guided S-300 surface-to-air missiles at the outset of the war. Though some have been destroyed, other S-300s continue to operate, forcing Russian aircraft to fly at low altitudes to avoid radar detection, In this way, currently, the use of MANPADS is of vital importance.
Russia’s blitzkrieg failed and the conflict became bogged down in months of grinding stalemate before Ukraine launched successful counter-offensives in the east and south. The outcome of the war remains highly uncertain, and Putin is under pressure. Ukraine has made impressive gains on the battlefield, and it is very evident that Ukraine’s military success is reshaping Russia as well as the war. Not since the initial part of Operation Barbarossa in the second world war has the Russian army had such a terrible series of reverses on the battlefield.