Bungling Russian helicopter pilots reveal site of 'decoy' fighter jets painted on air bases by landing on them

A Russian helicopter reveals site of a ‘decoy’ fighter jet painted on the tarmac by landing on it (MoD)
A Russian helicopter reveals site of a ‘decoy’ fighter jet painted on the tarmac by landing on it (MoD)

Bungling Russian helicopter pilots are revealing the location of “decoy fighter” jets painted onto the tarmac at air bases by landing on them, say British defence chiefs.

Vladimir Putin’s military and Ukraine are both seeking to protect key assets, such as tanks, ships and planes, by hiding them.

One method is to paint “silhouettes” of aircraft on airfields and of ships in ports to encourage them to be attacked rather than the actual vessels or aircraft.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “It is likely that as a result of continued successful Ukrainian strikes on military locations, Russia has been forced to implement a number of decoy and deception techniques in an attempt to obfuscate Ukrainian targeting efforts.

“At Kirovskoe Airfield on occupied Crimea there are decoy Russian fighter aircraft painted on the concrete. Such paintings have also been observed across at least 12 more Russian air bases, demonstrating the extent of Russian concern of future Ukrainian strikes and their ability to repel them.”

The briefing added: “However, Russian helicopters still regularly land on the painted decoy fighter silhouettes, completely undermining the deception attempt.

“This also reveals the true order of battle or aircraft strength at these airbases, which Russia is likely trying to mask from Ukraine’s intelligence picture.”

Ukraine has struck increasingly deep into Russia as the war has gone on, now into its third year, with the latest attacks some 800 miles from the frontline.

Kyiv forces also succeeded in shooting down a number of Russian fighter jets in recent months, as well as a spy aircraft.

However, these aerial successes for Ukraine have reduced in number, with some suggestions that Russian forces have destroyed a couple of US-built Patriot air defence systems.

Putin’s military has recently been targeting Ukraine’s power sector again as it seeks to cripple the country.

The Russian president’s troops are gradually seizing more territory in the eastern Donetsk province.

But his Black Sea Fleet has been forced to withdraw, at least partially, from its port base of Sevastopol, in occupied Crimea, after several ships were sunk by Ukrainian attacks.

The latest MoD update was put out as Ukraine, its allies and Russia are engaged in an information war to try to shape the course of the war.

So, briefings from London, Washington and Kyiv need to be treated with caution, as they are likely to be focused on highlighting Russian rather than Ukrainian weaknesses and defeats.

However, they are far more believable than the propaganda issued by the Kremlin.