TechSatellite images reveal Russia's military buildup in Crimea

Satellite images reveal Russia's military buildup in Crimea

Kamov Ka-52 Alligator
Kamov Ka-52 Alligator
Images source: © PAP | SERGEI ILNITSKY

7:25 AM EDT, March 15, 2024

Satellite images have provided a detailed look at the military assets positioned at Dzhankoy airport in Crimea, revealing the presence of multiple Mi-28 and Ka-52 helicopters, as well as Su-25 fighters. The Ukrainian news source Defense Express pointed out this accumulation of Russian military hardware and highlighted what appears to be an attempt by the Russian army to mislead observers by painting helicopter images on the airport's tarmac.

Photographs taken on March 9th show 10 Mi-28 attack helicopters, two Ka-52s, and four Su-25 planes stationed at the airport. The assembly of such firepower suggests a possible escalation of military actions in the south of Ukraine. Interestingly, Defense Express observed that the S-400 air defence systems previously at Dzhankoy had been relocated, possibly further into Russian territory.

The withdrawal of the S-400s might indicate a shift in defensive strategies, especially in areas susceptible to Ukrainian counterattacks. A notable point of discussion is the Russian army's practice of painting helicopter images on the airport's surface, a tactic aimed at deceiving adversaries.

"The sight of a fake Mi-28 painted on the tarmac is certainly peculiar. There seems to be only one plausible reason for this" — according to Defense Express. The article suggests that Russia might be concealing the loss of actual Mi-28 helicopters by resorting to such visual tricks. It's also speculated that dismantling Mi-28 helicopters for parts, to maintain others, could be a motive behind these painted illusions, an effort to disguise the fact that some helicopters are being cannibalized for parts.

Russian helicopters in Crimea

In the satellite imagery analyzed by Defense Express, the Ka-52 helicopters garner particular interest. Designed in the 1980s and entering production in 2008, these helicopters are among the most challenging for the enemy to bring down. Fueled by twin Klimov VK-2500 engines, a Ka-52 can reach speeds of up to 186 mph and carry substantial payloads, including laser-guided AT-12 missiles and the Shipunov 2A42 30 mm cannon. Despite a hefty weight of around 17,637 pounds, its coaxial rotor system provides remarkable agility.

Also highlighted was the Mi-28, Russia's answer to the American Apache. This helicopter features a traditional two-rotor configuration and a tandem cockpit design. It's equipped with the Shipunov 2A42-2 30 mm cannon and can carry a wide range of ordnance, including the anti-tank Ataka system with 9M120 missiles.

The Su-25 ground support aircraft, first introduced in 1978, plays a crucial role in front-line air support and enhancing ground force safety. Capable of operating at altitudes of up to 22,965 feet, the Su-25 can carry armaments weighing up to approximately 9,480 pounds on its 10 wing pylons.

See also