On Monday morning, as columns of armored vehicles and soldiers paraded through Moscow in celebration of Russia’s 1945 victory over Germany in World War II, one element of Russian military power was conspicuously missing: its warplanes. And though officials blamed their grounding on bad weather, Russian planes, pilots and air-to-ground weapons have all grossly underperformed in the war against Ukraine. The absence underscored President Vladimir V. Putin’s failure to build a capable modern air force, as Russian aircrews race in and out of Ukrainian airspace and heave unguided bombs while fleeing enemy surface-to-air missiles that Moscow has still not managed to destroy, even after 75 days of combat.
Russian warplanes are generally flying 200 to 300 sorties each day, a senior Defense Department official told reporters during a briefing on Monday, but have failed to establish air superiority over Ukraine, which continues to fly its own fighters and attack
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