Russia Is Using Tyres To Protect Its Bombers in Novel Defense Against Drone Strikes

In a curious defensive move, Russian forces have been spotted using car tyres to cover their attack aircraft. This unconventional strategy is believed to be an attempt at safeguarding their military assets from increasing Ukrainian drone strikes.

Image |
Maxar Technologies
Published on
September 6, 2023

Satellite images from the Engels Airbase in Russia display two Tu-95 strategic bombers outfitted with car tyres on their airframes. While the exact reasons for this adaptation have yet to be independently confirmed, defense experts are positing that the tyres may offer dual protection. Firstly, they could act as a rudimentary shield against drone strikes. Secondly, they might diminish the aircraft's visibility, especially during nighttime operations.

However, the efficacy of such a measure remains questionable. Francisco Serra-Martins from One Way Aerospace, a drone manufacturer whose products are employed by the Ukrainian forces, remarked, "It may reduce the thermal signature for exposed strategic aviation assets placed on airfield aprons, but they will still be observable under infrared cameras." In simple terms, while the tyres may potentially alter the heat signature of the aircraft, making it slightly harder for infrared detection, the planes are not rendered invisible to advanced technology.

Steffan Watkins, an open-source research consultant, further explained the potential utility of the tyres. They might function to prevent fragmentation from an explosion occurring above the plane from damaging the aircraft.

Russia's move to shield its aircraft with tyres, whether effective or not, underscores the growing threats drones present in modern warfare. It also highlights the extent to which nations may go in devising makeshift solutions when faced with emergent military challenges.

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