Moscow’s forces have started covering some of their attack aircraft with car tires, in what experts say could be a makeshift attempt to protect them from Ukrainian drone strikes.
Satellite imagery from Maxar of Engels Airbase, deep inside Russia, shows two Tu-95 strategic bombers with car tires on top of the airframes.
The move may have limited effect, according to Francisco Serra-Martins of drone manufacturer One Way Aerospace whose drones have been used by Ukrainian forces.
“It may reduce the thermal signature for exposed strategic aviation assets placed on airfield aprons, but they will still be observable under infrared cameras,” he told CNN.
“While it seems pretty goofy, they seem to be trying to do the best they can to up-armor the planes that are otherwise sitting ducks. Whether it works depends on what the warhead is on the missile/drone,” said Steffan Watkins, an open-source research consultant who tracks aircraft and ships.
Watkins added that the tires could be used to stop fragmentation of an explosion above the plane from piercing the aircraft.
A NATO military official told CNN the alliance was aware of the tires. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
“We believe it’s meant to protect against drones,” the official told CNN. “We don’t know if this will have any effect.”