This is according to Vladislav Shurygin, a Russian military expert who notes that there is "a real massacre in the Ukrainian sky." (Related: Ukraine conducts first strike using U.S.–supplied ATACMS missiles, allegedly destroying 9 Russian helicopters and 2 airfields.)
Shurygin noted that, in the span of two weeks, the Ukrainian Armed Forces lost between 10 to 14 aircraft. All of them were shot down far from the frontlines and outside the radius of Russian air defense systems and even outside the range of standard Russian fighter jet missiles. It is believed they were destroyed using Russia's new hypersonic R-37M air-to-air missile, which sports a range of up to 400km.
Shurygin added that, while most of the pilots of the Ukrainian fighters were able to eject, they said that they were unable to detect warning information about the attack on their planes from the appropriate warning systems until it was too late.
The Pentagon believes that Russian air defense systems have been upgraded with new missiles capable of not only hitting targets at far greater distances but also of independently pursuing targets after launch while remaining undetected from enemy radar systems through the use of radio signature guides.
If these claims are confirmed, it means that Russia has acquired the means of neutralizing most modern anti-air-to-air missile defense systems, including those present in the U.S. Air Force's vaunted F-35.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, within a span of 24 hours, the country's air defense system infrastructure placed all along the frontlines took down seven Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29s.
During this same period, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that its air defense systems targeted a total of 12 military aircraft belonging to Ukraine. Moscow is uncertain whether it was able to successfully take down the other 3 aircraft attacked by Russian missiles.
Russia is not keen to share specific details regarding these air battles, likely due to concerns that such publications could endanger national security. Military experts analyzing the encounters suggest that the Ukrainian fighter jets could have been ambushed, catching the fighter pilots unaware.
"Since they were lost to air defenses, it is logical to assume that they ran into ambushes," said Vijainder K. Thakur, a veteran squadron leader of the Indian Air Force. "In essence, the [Armed Forces of Ukraine] may have encountered Russian air defenses where they did not expect to encounter [them]."
Thakur noted that the Ukrainian strategy is to fly MiG-29s relatively low. This allows them to better evade detection from Russian radar systems and increases the survivability of the already equipment-strapped Ukrainian Air Force.
But these fighter jets have to gain altitude during their sorties in order to launch their payloads at Russian targets. During this stage, they are vulnerable to being detected by enemy radar and air defense systems. If Ukrainian jets were unable to detect Russian anti-air assets close to their planes during this stage of their sorties, the fighter jets can easily be shot down.
Read the latest news about the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia at UkraineWitness.com.
Watch this video from "Southfront Press" discussing the ongoing air battles between Russia and Ukraine.