Russia: March 1, 2000


Russian airpower has been more effective in Chechnya this time than in the 1994-96 conflict, although it still has a traditionally-Russian "meat axe" approach. While the US and NATO use precision-guided weapons to hit military targets while minimizing civilian casualties, the Russians in Chechnya are using precision-guided weapons to hit their targets without any real concern for civilian casualties. The primary Russian concern is to maintain the advance of the ground forces without getting a lot of infantry units shot up, as this increases Russian casualties and destroys Russian morale. The Russians have used cluster bombs and fuel-air explosives, and showed more interest in flattening Grozny to avoid infantry losses than in capturing the city. The Russians have used Scud-C and SS-21 missiles (fitted with anti-personnel submunition warheads) to attack rebel bases and units and to block routes used by the rebels. Rather than follow the rebels into the mountains south of Grozny, the Russians have begun carpet bombing mountain valleys and have reportedly prepared some Backfire bombers for this mission. The Russians complain that they are forced to use obsolete Su-24s and Su-25s for the Chechen War, grumbling that there is no money for more modern aircraft. Prototypes of the Su-25T all-weather bomber have been used. Fitted with the Shkval system (a 23-power television camera with a coaxial laser designator) they have been able to place bombs and missiles within 1m of their targets. --Stephen V Cole


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