War in Ukraine Approaches Russia in the Form of Drones 2:24
(CNN) -- Moscow's forces have begun covering some of their attack planes with car tires, in what experts say could be an impromptu attempt to protect them from Ukrainian drone attacks that have had greater recent success at Russian military airports.
Maxar satellite images of Engels Air Base in Russia's interior show two Tu-95 strategic bombers with car tires on top of the fuselages.
CNN could not independently verify why the tires were placed on the planes, but experts say it could be a crude attempt not only to add another layer of protection against Ukrainian drones, but also to reduce the visibility of the aircraft, especially at night.
The move may have a limited effect, according to Francisco Serra-Martins of drone maker One Way Aerospace, whose drones have been used by Ukrainian forces.
"It can reduce the thermal signature for exposed strategic aviation assets placed on airfield platforms, but they will still be observable under infrared cameras," he told CNN.
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A satellite image shows the tires of a Russian plane. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)
"Although it seems silly, it seems that they try to do everything possible to shield the planes that would otherwise be easy targets. Whether it works or not depends on the warhead the missile/drone carries," said Steffan Watkins, an open-source research consultant who tracks planes and ships.
Watkins added that the tires could be used to prevent fragmentation from an explosion over the plane from passing through it.
A NATO military official told CNN the alliance was aware of the tires. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
"We believe it's meant to protect against drones," the official told CNN. "We don't know if it will have any effect."
Ukraine has become increasingly bold in targeting strategic assets inside Russia through airstrikes in recent weeks, even as it suffers assaults on its own cities, setting up a new phase of the conflict defined by Kyiv's apparent efforts to erode Russian domestic support for the war.
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Russian forces have begun covering some of their attack planes with car tires, in what experts say could be an impromptu attempt to protect them from Ukrainian drone strikes. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)
Last week, six Russian regions, including Moscow, were attacked, in the biggest drone assault on its territory since it launched the invasion of Ukraine. In the city of Pskov, near the Estonian border, several transport planes were damaged when drones attacked an airport.
In early August, Ukraine declared that it had attacked with drones bases housing supersonic bombers on Russian territory, in what appeared to be an effort to dent Russian air power, which has been a major obstacle to the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Russian forces have previously resorted to unusual DIY solutions to protect equipment from Ukrainian attacks, including covering the often vulnerable turrets of their tanks with metal cages in an attempt to reduce the impact of modern anti-tank weapons that attack with armor-penetrating rounds from above.
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