Russia adds decoy aircraft to air bases near Ukraine
Russia hopes decoys will lure Ukraine attack drones into hitting false targets
As Ukrainian long-range strike capabilities have grown, so has the number of decoys at Russian air bases involved in the invasion of Ukraine. Several of these decoys are painted at air bases that were once beyond Kyiv’s reach.
Last summer, I noticed new activity at Russia’s Yeysk air base. Russia was creating plane-like shapes at the base and these white “canvases” were later painted to resemble Russian fighter jets. Primorsko-Ahktarsk, an air base on the Sea of Azov, got its own decoys as well. Some of these are painted in color while others are less detailed.
The pattern continued across nearby bases. While most have multiple decoys, Mozdok air base only has one. At Krymsk air base, home to Russia’s 3rd Mixed Aviation Regiment, new decoys appeared in late 2023. In Crimea too, at least two were added to Hvardiiske air base.
Further north, at Engels-2 air base, new imitations of Russian bombers appeared on the ground. Notably, this base had been previously attacked by Ukrainian drones before these decoys were spotted.
So if these decoys are easy to spot in satellite imagery, why did Russia create them? While not very convincing in high resolution imagery, these decoys aim to mislead Ukrainian attack drones that rely on basic cameras for image recognition of aircraft shapes.
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