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Russia is painting bomber jet shapes on an air base floor

After covering bomber jets with tyres in an attempt to hide them from Ukrainian drones, Russia is now painting replica jets on the floor at an air base, satellite images suggest.

Military news outlet The War Zone made the discovery when it saw that TU-95s stationed at Engels Air Base in south-western Russian did not cast a shadow.

The base near the city of Saratov – along with several other Russian aviation facilities – has come under repeated attack as Ukraine demonstrates the ability to strike deep inside Russian borders with drones.

The fleet of TU-95 strategic bombers has been heavily used in Russian missile attacks on Ukraine.

Satellite images from Planet Labs showed jets with “no vertical dimension”, analysts at The War Zone wrote, making paint the most likely explanation. One plane appeared to be only half painted, lacking detail.

Aerial photos of Engels Air Base had previously revealed that Russia was covering long range bombers with tyres, which military aviation specialists told i were an attempt to confuse enemy guidance systems.

Russian military Telegram channels confirmed the practice and said it was being applied widely at air bases.

Military analysts said the painted planes were probably an attempt to feed false targeting information to Ukrainian drone and missile operators, but this was unlikely to succeed as modern targeting systems would register that they were two-dimensional.

Ukraine has also made extensive use of decoys, producing detailed wooden versions of high-value targets such as the Himars rocket launcher and imported air defence systems. 

Such decoys are produced in large numbers by Metinvest, a mining and metals company owned by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov.

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