The Folly of the Russian “Tire Shield”: Questionable Efficacy and a Blow to Military Prestige


In an eyebrow-raising move, Russian military forces have resorted to covering their Tu-95 strategic bombers with car tires. Although the exact rationale behind this maneuver is unclear, it is widely speculated to be an improvised measure against Ukrainian drone strikes. While some experts concede that the tactic might offer minimal protection, its overall ineffectiveness and the embarrassing optics it presents for a leading global military force are undeniable.

Flawed Defense Mechanism

According to Francisco Serra-Martins, an executive at One Way Aerospace, a company whose drones are being used by Ukrainian forces, the tactic is far from foolproof. He stated that the tires might “reduce the thermal signature,” but would not render the aircraft invisible to infrared cameras, a key component in modern drone targeting systems. Thus, the countermeasure is unlikely to offer substantial protection against sophisticated drone strikes.

The Reputational Impact

Resorting to such an ad-hoc strategy does little more than tarnish Russia’s image as a military powerhouse. With a global reputation for advanced weaponry and strategy, the Russian forces’ move to use car tires as a makeshift defense measure is at best laughable and at worst concerning for its own operational security. As Steffan Watkins, an open-source research consultant, pointed out, the tactic’s efficacy is extremely limited, dependent on variables like the type of warhead used by attacking drones.

NATO’s Perception

Even NATO, an alliance accustomed to observing various defense strategies, expressed skepticism regarding the effectiveness of Russia’s unusual approach. An anonymous military official confirmed that NATO also interprets the measure as an attempt to shield against drones but voiced uncertainty over its actual impact.


The Russian military’s tire shield tactic not only casts doubt on its effectiveness but also serves as a disconcerting and embarrassing moment for the world’s second-largest military. Whether or not the tires provide any tangible protection, they undoubtedly fail to shield Russia from international scrutiny and mockery, inevitably causing a dent in the country’s military prestige.

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