Ukraine War

British Intelligence Ukraine war map as of Sep. 28

As the Ukraine War rages on, British intelligence agencies have released a sobering update on the status of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS). The report, dated September 28, 2023, provides insights into the challenges faced by the Russian military in sustaining its air power in the ongoing conflict.

Aircraft Losses and Intensive Use

One of the key findings of the report is that the Russian Aerospace Forces have suffered significant losses in the form of approximately 90 fixed-wing aircraft since February 2022. This figure underscores the intensity and ferocity of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Furthermore, the report highlights that the Russian military has been flying some of its combat aircraft types at a much higher frequency than during peacetime. This heightened operational tempo has implications for the longevity of these aircraft.

Reduced Aircraft Lifespans

All military aircraft have projected lifespans measured in flying hours. With the increased use of combat aircraft during wartime, it is highly likely that Russia is rapidly depleting the expected lifespan of many of its airframes. This accelerated wear and tear on aircraft may have long-term consequences for the Russian military’s aerial capabilities.

Challenges in Maintenance and Spare Parts

The need for additional maintenance due to the intense use of aircraft in combat is further complicated by a shortage of spare parts. International sanctions, coupled with the heightened demand for military equipment in ongoing conflicts, have made it increasingly challenging for Russia to procure the necessary spare parts to keep its aircraft operational.

Surge Capacity and Long-Term Viability

Despite these challenges, the report notes that the Russian Aerospace Forces maintain the capability to increase sortie rates over occupied Ukraine when needed. This surge capacity allows for temporary intensification of operations. However, as the war in Ukraine drags on longer than originally planned by the Russian Ministry of Defence, the wear and tear on airframes is likely to have a lasting impact on the VKS’s long-term tactical air power.


The British intelligence report offers a glimpse into the complexities and difficulties faced by the Russian military in the ongoing Ukraine War. The loss of aircraft, the accelerated wear and tear of airframes, maintenance challenges, and the shortage of spare parts all pose significant hurdles for Russia’s air power capabilities. As the conflict continues, these challenges may play a crucial role in shaping the dynamics of the war and the strategies employed by both sides. The situation highlights the far-reaching consequences of protracted conflicts on the military capabilities of nations involved.

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