Donbas Frontliner: Dealing with the KAB Glide Bomb

KAB glide bomb launched by Russian Sukhoi fighter just prior to impacting an industrial facility.
March 14, 2024  
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Categories: Learnin'

Reporter/Photographer/Videographer Andriy Dubchak, Research Analyst Mykola Bielieskov (“Come Back Alive” Foundation), and Donbas Frontliner have released a video about the “KAB” (alternately “FAB”) guided, glide bomb munitions used by Russian forces in the Russo-Ukrainian War (aka Russian Putin Ukraine War). These include the satellite-guided glide bombs released from 25 miles or more away by Russian pilots who’ve learned the hard way not to close within MANPAD/SAM. Most notably, they’ve been used to good effect in the Avdiika region against Ukraine’s 110th Mechanized Brigade, the 3rd Assault Brigade, and other units. 

According to the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C., the implementation of the Avdiivka glide-bombing campaign could “…herald a change in Russian operations elsewhere along the front line.” 

Over one two-day period in February, Russian Sukhoi aircraft systematically pounded the city with an estimated 250 or more KABs in a 48-hour period. This was arguably the first time since almost the beginning of the war that Russian aviation formations have significantly affected ground operations. 

You can read what they say below or just watch the video. 

“The Russians are adapting.” Mykola Bielieskov

Russian KAB aerial guided bomb strikes an industrial facility in Ukraine.

Russian KAB aerial guided bomb strikes an industrial facility in Ukraine.

KABs played a significant role in deterring the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the summer of 2023 and reducing the Ukrainian army’s ability to defend Avdiivka in the fall of 2023 and the winter of 2024.

Those Russian [-manufactured] guided aerial bombs have become a significant problem for the Ukrainian army over the past year.

Such typical ammunition weighs 250, 500, or even 1500 kg. Such explosion is capable of demolishing multi-story buildings, including basements.

On average, the Russian army drops up to 300 such bombs daily in the combat zone.

Currently, we are only talking about minimizing the use of anti-aircraft missiles by the Russian army, which is actively working on increasing the flight distance of glide bombs, particularly those weighing more than one ton.

KAB Aerial Munitions

Russian KABs – guided aerial bombs – have become a significant problem for the Ukrainian army over the past year. On average, the Russian army drops up to 300 such bombs daily in the combat zone. Such typical ammunition weighs 250, 500, or even 1500 kg. Such explosions are capable of demolishing multi-story buildings, including basements. These weapons are currently not accurate. Often, bombs hit civilian targets and kill civilians.

Large glide bomb (KAB) being assembled before shipment to Russo-Ukraine lines.

Large glide bomb (KAB) being assembled before shipment to Russo-Ukraine lines.

According to various reports, the Russian aircraft capable of carrying such bombs include 400 to 600 aircraft models (Su-27, Su-30, Su-34, Su-24M, MiG-29, etc.). KABs played a significant role in deterring the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the summer of 2023 and reducing the Ukrainian army’s ability to defend Avdiivka in the fall of 2023 and the winter of 2024.

Note: The quotes below may not read well in English and may not be entirely accurate. We were forced to rely on the video’s subtitles for the translation.

“The first time I encountered the KABs, actually near Orikhiv, when the Russians were throwing them every day. There were around 10-15 flights of aviation a day. There could be up to 30 KABs that were dropped both on Orikhiv and its surroundings.”

“I would call it an analog of the American JDAM (Joint Attack Munition), but a rather bad analog. [It stands for OFAB], which is a high-explosive aerial bomb. It comes with a control module and a certain design that allows for a small airframe that opens up in flight. There are different weights: 250 kilograms, 500 kilograms, and more than one ton. They were prompted to certain innovations by the experience of the first days of full-scale war, the experience of using the manned aircrafts [sic] in the first month. Somewhere in the first month and a half, when they tried to use manned aircraft with just free-fall bombs. As a result, we remember quite significant losses of Russian manned aircraft.”

“They were shot down in Chernihiv, in Mykolaiv region, near Kyiv, and near Kharkiv. That is, it was very risky to operate in this way, given that Ukraine has medium-sized radio SAMs: BUK, S-300, and MANPADs. That is, quite modern Russian planes were shot down with MANPADs.” 

“The Russians are adapting. I mean, they realized that they can’t do it the way they did in Syria, just dropping free-fall bombs on people’s heads. So they have made this innovation, which, unfortunately, creates problems for us, but is less publicized because in people’s minds…it is primarily an artillery war…and the aviation components are less emphasized…

Mykola Bielieskov

Learn more: 👇

https://heylink.me/donbasfrontliner/

Additional Reading

Lost and Forgotten: Soldiers of Ukraine (this is from long before Russia’s full-scale invasion). 

 

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David Reeder

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