Proving Stalin’s Point

Uncle Joe Stalin once said, “Quantity is its own quality.” The war in Ukraine may be proving his point. During the recent battle of Avdiyevka, Russian ground forces lay back while Russian Aerospace Forces dropped one hundred glide bombs a day on Ukraine Armed Forces (AFU) positions. Avdiyevka was likely the most heavily fortified position in eastern Ukraine, having been built up since 2015. These precision-guided weapons of 500 and 1500 kilograms annihilated Ukrainian fortifications. The result was a devastating defeat for the AFU.

During 2023, the Russians followed a similar strategy, at times dropping 20 FAB-500 UMPK glide bombs a day. UMPK stands for Unifitsirovannyi Modul Planirovaniya i Korrektsii, meaning unified gliding and correction module. The weapon has a range of 45 miles and costs $25,000 each. The heavier FAB-1500 has a range of 25 miles (Ranges source: Forces News).

The Russians are reinforcing success. While Russia has always enjoyed an advantage (at times as high as 10:1) in artillery, 152mm howitzer shells do not pack as much destructive power as 500kg and 3000kg bombs. The bombs are much better at destroying fortifications.

Russian FAB
Russian FAB-500 Glide Bomb


Comparable to US Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs)

The Russian glide bombs are comparable to the GPS-guided JDAMs that NATO has supplied to Ukraine. However, the AFU has suffered from the lack of delivery platforms and strong Russian-integrated air defense. So far, the AFU has not made effective use of the JDAMs. The FAB glide bombs are guided using GLONASS, the Russian equivalent of GPS. While less accurate than the NATO weapons, the Russian bombs are cheap and can be delivered in large numbers by stand-off aircraft, usually SU-34s.

Russia is mass-producing glide-bomb kits. The kits consist of a set of fold-out wings and an empennage with fins directed by GLONASS. These are fitted to standard, WW2-era dumb bombs that the Russians possess in abundance. They started with 500kg bombs to test the concept, then quickly graduated to 1000 and 1500 kg.

Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu has announced that Russia is now mass-producing FAB-3000 bombs. That’s 3000 kg, or 6600 pounds.