Russian military covers aircraft with car tires as countermeasure against Ukrainian drones


Moscow’s forces have adopted an unconventional approach to protect their aircraft by covering them with car tires. Satellite imagery obtained from Maxar of Engels Airbase, located deep within Russia, has revealed the presence of two Tu-95 strategic bombers equipped with car tires atop their airframes.

While CNN could not independently verify the precise motive behind this unusual defense tactic, experts suggest that it serves a dual purpose. The primary aim appears to be countering the threat of Ukrainian drones while also reducing the aircraft’s visibility, especially during nighttime operations.

However, experts like Francisco Serra-Martins, affiliated with drone manufacturer One Way Aerospace, have expressed reservations about the effectiveness of this method. Serra-Martins emphasized that although it might diminish the thermal signature of strategic aviation assets on airfield aprons, they would still remain detectable under infrared cameras.

Moreover, the use of car tires may also serve to mitigate the risk of fragmentation from an explosion above the aircraft piercing its structure, according to experts in the field.

NATO, aware of this development, remains uncertain about the overall impact of this unorthodox protective measure. An anonymous NATO military official remarked, “We believe it’s meant to protect against drones, but we don’t know if this will have any effect.”

Recent weeks have witnessed Ukraine’s growing boldness in targeting strategic assets within Russia through aerial assaults, even as it faces attacks on its own cities. This marks a new phase of the conflict, characterized by Kyiv’s apparent strategy to erode domestic Russian support for the war.

Notably, in the past week, Russia experienced the most significant drone assault on its territory since the onset of the invasion of Ukraine. Six Russian regions, including Moscow, came under attack. In the city of Pskov, near the Estonian border, several transport planes reportedly suffered damage when drones targeted an airport.

Earlier in August, Ukraine claimed responsibility for drone strikes on bases housing supersonic bombers deep within Russian territory. This was seen as an attempt to weaken Russia’s airpower, a significant obstacle for Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Russian forces have previously resorted to inventive DIY solutions to safeguard equipment from Ukrainian attacks, such as the use of metal cages to protect tank turrets against modern anti-tank weapons with armor-penetrating capabilities from above.

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