Movement of a British reconnaissance plane through Romanian territory. It is likely that the transponders were turned off before flying into the Black Sea.
The operation was conducted in full cooperation between the Navy and NATO forces.
According to air monitoring data of April 12, a British reconnaissance aircraft RC-135 was actively working in the Black Sea area and UAV RQ-4 Global Hawk flights were recorded at different times. On that day, Alliance reconnaissance confirmed the presence of the Moskva, checked signatures and received comprehensive data on the location of other Russian Black Sea Fleet ships.
The flight of American reconnaissance aircraft in the Black Sea.
The flight data of the U.S. RC-135 and RQ-4 planes became unavailable. The reason was that the aerial reconnaissance aircraft flew with their transponders turned off, and civilian airspace monitoring equipment could not detect them, which is more than a clear sign of a military reconnaissance mission.
The missile strike on the aged cruiser was carried out using the Neptune missile system, a modern missile system made with military microelectronics manufactured in Western Europe. Thus, it was able to receive external target designation from NATO reconnaissance aircraft. According to a number of reports, the attack on the cruiser also involved Bayraktar UAVs, which served for distraction of the Russian Navy.
The cruiser itself was in poor technical condition. Previously, the cruiser had been unable to undergo repairs and maintenance for several years, and the Defense Ministry had refused to upgrade it. That’s why, even the Moscow’s ability to repel missile attacks is questioned.
Old ship, poor damage control = fragility.
What conclusions and predictions can be made at this time:
1. The naval blockade of Ukrainian ports is threatened. The Black Sea Fleet, due to its small number, cannot continue to lose surface ships. Russia has to look for other means to keep the coast and Ukrainian ports under control.
2. The attacks on the Russian Black Sea Fleet will continue, including with the NSM SCARs, the range of which is up to 300 km and allows the UAF to destroy Russian warships almost in the whole water area of the Black Sea, including the coast of Crimea. The Black Sea Fleet will be gradually pushed out of the waters of the Black Sea to the coast of the peninsula.
3. The main direction of the AFU offensive becomes the South of Ukraine, the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. Britain has repeatedly made it clear that Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, primarily Odessa, are of strategic importance.
Likely Russian response – heavy bombers with fighter escorts and ECM jamming equipment to neutralize NATO ECM controllers over Romania and the Black Sea.
That also means modifying and accelerating the South Front’s schedule for moving on Odessa.
And so a day later, we are already seeing the escalation with the deployment of Russian air force Tu-22M bombers flew into Ukrainian air space on Thursday and dropped unguided bombs on Ukrainian troops in the besieged city of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov coast.
Reportedly they had their effect – the Illich plant has fallen leaving just Azovstal.
The Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed that Russian and DPR troops took control over the Illich Iron and Steel Plant in the city of Mariupol.
“The grouping of Russian troops and units of the Donetsk people’s militia have completely liberated Illich Steelworks from Ukrainian nationalists as a result of offensive in Mariupol city.” – the report reads.
But the broader message has also been heard in Russia.
Here is Russian State Television on escalation:
Carpet bombing the Azov militant holdouts in the Azovstal.
And, a day later, here we see Russian Tu-160 heavy bomber with a Khibiny (L-175V) ECM aircraft and fighter escorts (appear to be Su-57s) flying over Vyazma, Russia (~100 miles to Kiev)