March 10, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Russia conducting airstrikes with improved guided glide-bombs

Institute for the Study of War

A Ukrainian military official confirmed that Russian forces are conducting strikes in Ukraine with improved glide bombs. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Dmytro Lykhovyi reported on March 10 that Russian forces struck Myrnohrad, Donetsk Oblast, with three universal interspecific glide munition (UMPB) D-30SN guided glide bombs that Ukrainian forces initially originally assessed were S-300 missiles. Lykhovyi stated that improved UMPB D-30SN guided glide bombs essentially convert Soviet-era FAB unguided gravity bombs to guided glide bombs. Russian forces had previously used unguided glide bombs as recently as January 2024. ISW recently observed Russian milbloggers claim that Russian forces began conducting strikes with FAB UMPB guided glide bombs, as opposed to using unguided glide bombs with unified planning and correction modules (UMPC), in unspecified areas in Ukraine. A Russian milblogger claimed that UMPB guided glide bombs have a guidance system that includes a noise-resistant GLONASS/GPS “Comet” signal receiver and folding wings similar to a Kh-101 cruise missile. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces can launch UMPB guided glide bombs from aircraft and ground-based multiple rocket launch systems (MLRS) such as Tornado-S and Smerch MLRS. A Russian outlet claimed that Russian aviation is currently launching UMPBs without jet engines, but that Russia anticipates employing UMPBs with jet engines in the future. Russian milbloggers claimed that UMPB guided glide bombs with a jet engine and fuel tank, currently absent from aerial glide bombs with UMPC, will allow Russian aviation to drop guided glide bombs from a lower altitude “similar to air-to-surface cruise missiles” and increase the maximum strike range to 80-90 kilometers. Russian milbloggers claimed that the increased range of UMPB guided glide bombs will allow Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) to increase the depth of strikes on Ukrainian positions without risk from Ukrainian air forces detecting or destroying Russian fixed-wing aircraft. Russian milbloggers claimed that the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) is attempting to mass-produce UMPB guided glide bombs. Russian forces will likely attempt to serialize production of UMPB guided glide bombs and increase their use across the frontline.

Russian sources reported that Northern Fleet Commander Admiral Alexander Moiseev has replaced Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy. St. Petersburg news outlet Fontanka reported on March 10 that Moiseev was appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, and former Black Sea Fleet (BSF) Commander retired Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov later stated that Moiseev is the new Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy in an interview with Ural Regional State newswire URA.ru. Russian milbloggers similarly claimed that Moiseev was appointed to command the Russian Navy and that recent command changes in the Russian Navy are occurring amid a “complete paralysis” of fleet leadership about new threats, likely referring to recent Ukrainian strikes against BSF assets in and near occupied Crimea. Russian sources recently claimed that the Russian military officially removed BSF Commander Admiral Viktor Sokolov and replaced him with BSF Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Sergei Pinchuk. ISW cannot confirm either Pinchuk’s or Moiseev’s reported appointments. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is in the process of depriving the Northern Fleet of its status as an “interservice strategic territorial organization” (a joint headquarters in Western military parlance) to restore the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts (MMD and LMD), and Moiseev may have been appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy to retain a high-ranking command role.

Key Takeaways:

  • A Ukrainian military official confirmed that Russian forces are conducting strikes in Ukraine with improved guided glide bombs.
  • Russian sources reported that the Russian military command has replaced Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov with Northern Fleet Commander Admiral Alexander Moiseev as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy.
  • Russian occupation authorities opened early voting in occupied Ukraine for Russia’s presidential election on March 10 that will last until March 14.
  • Chechen officials organized a march in Grozny, Chechnya, on March 10 in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s candidacy in the upcoming March presidential election.
  • Over 1,000 civilian ships have transited Ukraine’s “grain corridor” in the Black Sea despite persistent Russian efforts to undermine international confidence in the corridor.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) awarded a state honor to a prominent Russian ultranationalist — who is an active supporter of imprisoned former officer and ardent ultranationalist Igor Girkin — likely as part of an ongoing Kremlin campaign to coopt the critical milblogger community.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and Avdiivka amid continued positional engagements along the entire frontline on March 10.
  • Prominent Russian ultranationalists praised Russian volunteers and mobilized personnel on March 10, likely to assuage continued concerns among these personnel in spite of their improper and inequal treatment in the Russian military.
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