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General Christopher G. Cavoli, head of US European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, presented a measured assessment of Russia’s military capabilities during a Congressional hearing on April 10th. While acknowledging Ukrainian successes, he highlighted the relative strength of the Russian Air Force.

General Cavoli stated that Russia’s Air Force has only lost around 10% of its fleet despite over two years of war in Ukraine. Russia’s strategic forces, long-range aviation, cyber capabilities, and space capabilities reportedly remain largely intact.

General Cavoli did acknowledge Ukrainian achievements, including the downing of at least two critical A-50 Mainstay command and control aircraft.

Russia’s strategy may prioritize long-range missile strikes, minimizing the need for frontline air operations. While Ukraine has achieved some success, its air defense capabilities might not pose a major threat to Russia’s entire air fleet.

The war’s ground-focused nature may limit the overall role of airpower for Russia compared to other conflicts. Verifying the exact extent of Russian air losses is challenging due to the fog of war and limited access to reliable data.

The war’s toll on Russia’s airpower might become more evident as the conflict progresses, considering factors like pilot training and maintenance capabilities.