Why has Russia failed to gain air superiority over Ukraine?

Despite having greater numbers and more technologically advanced platforms, Russia has failed to achieve air superiority over Ukraine after more than four weeks of conflict. Thomas Withington explains where they went wrong.

As these words were being written, Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine was almost one month old. Yet after four weeks of conflict, the Russian Aerospace Forces (RuASF) had still failed to achieve air superiority over the sovereign European nation, despite Ukraine fielding a far lower number of outdated fighter jets.

RuASF Il-22M Bizon (Coot-B) [Sam Wise]
The RuASF’s fleet of Ilyushin Il-22M Bizon (Coot-B) C2/EW aircraft are supplemented by a number of special mission Il-20/22 Coot/Mutes. This example (serial RF-95921) is seen departing Chkalovsky on September 25, 2020.
Sam Wise

The US military defines air superiority as the degree of air dominance where opposing forces cannot excessively impede air operations. It is the stepping-stone to air supremacy, which is described as “the degree of air superiority wherein the opposing air force is incapable of effective interference.”

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