This inventive use of airpower reveals that the Ukrainians might even have a more sophisticated understanding of air operations than even many NATO countries, which take their dominance of the air for granted. What the Ukrainians have done—contesting the skies against a richer, more powerful enemy on the cheap—is extremely difficult. The West has much to learn from Ukraine’s successes, Deptula told us. “We have become so dominant in the air that we have never had to think through how we would use airpower if we were the inferior force,” he said. “Ukraine is posing us some very interesting questions that we should seriously consider, if only to understand how a clever opponent would take us on.”
Russia has failed to understand the importance of airpower.
About the authors: Phillips Payson O’Brien is a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is the author of How the War Was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II. Edward Stringer is a retired Royal Air Force air marshal and a senior fellow at Policy Exchange.