Russian forces have appeared to cover bomber aircraft in car tyres, in what experts believe is an attempt to defend them from Ukrainian drone attacks.
Satellite images from Maxar Technologies appear to show scores of car tyres placed flat on the wings and fuselages of two Tu-95 bombers at the Engels airbase near Saratov.
The tactic could be used to reduce the aircrafts’ visibility at night and an another layer of protection against Ukrainian drones, a drone expert told CNN.
“It may reduce the thermal signature for exposed strategic aviation assets placed on airfield aprons, but they will still be observable under infrared cameras,” Francisco Serra-Martins of drone manufacturer One Way Aerospace.
An anonymous Nato military official told CNN the alliance was aware of the tyres.
“We believe it’s meant to protect against drones,” the official said. “We don’t know if this will have any effect.”
Russia’s defence ministry said it shot down at least three Ukraine-launched drones on Tuesday that were targeting the country’s capital, Moscow.
The ministry said that its air defence systems destroyed two drones over the Kaluga and Tver regions, which border the Moscow region, as well as one closer to the capital, over the Istra district of the Moscow region.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the drones “were trying to carry out an attack on Moscow”.
Over the weekend Russia said three Ukrainian naval drones were shot down during an attempted attack on the Kerch bridge.
In Ukraine, at least 17 people were killed and 32 wounded in a Russian attack on a crowded market in the eastern city of Kostiantynivka on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s strike followed a series of Russian attacks on cities in eastern Ukraine in which civilian infrastructure has been hit, including a popular cafe, a hotel and shops.
It also followed air strikes several hours earlier on Kyiv and the southern region of Odesa.
Meanwhile Romania’s defence minister said on Wednesday that pieces apparently of a drone from Russia’s recent attacks on Ukraine’s port on the Danube River have been found on the territory of his country. Romania is a Nato member.