In-depth Analysis: How Ukraine’s ATACMS Missiles are Changing the Game in the Conflict with Russia

2024-04-24 19:49:00

An ATACMS, a surface-to-surface missile, is fired during joint military training between the United States and South Korea at an unidentified location in South Korea on June 6, 2022 (REUTERS)

ATACMS missiles are one of the weapons that Ukraine most requested in its defense against the Russian invasion. This Wednesday it was learned that the country began to use long-range weapons secretly provided by the United States for the first time, bombing a Russian military airfield in Crimea last week and Russian forces in another area.

Biden approved the delivery of Army Tactical Long Range Missile System, known as ATACMS, in early March, and the US included a “significant” number of them in a $300 million aid package announced then, one of the officials said.

Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the delivery before it was made public, declined to provide the exact number of missiles delivered last month or in the latest aid package, which amounts to about $1 billion. .

After a report of AP, The US State Department confirmed that long-range ATACMS missiles were sent to Ukraine for use within its territory and that the weapons arrived in the country this month. “I can confirm that the United States provided Ukraine with long-range ATACMS at the direct direction of the president,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

These are some of the key reasons why kyiv believes that this weaponry can be decisive to recover Ukrainian territory from Russia.

The Army’s conventional tactical missile system (ATACMS) is a High-precision surface-to-surface attack system with a range of up to 300 kilometers manufactured by the American company Lockheed Martin.

They were used with great effectiveness for the first time during the operation Desert Stormbetween 1990 and 1991, when a US-led coalition attacked Irak in response to their invasion of Kuwait.

This photo taken on July 29, 2017 and provided by the South Korean Defense Ministry in Seoul shows the US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) firing a missile into the East Sea from an undisclosed location in the east coast of South Korea during a joint South Korea-US missile drill aimed at countering North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test. (AFP/FILE)

These missiles have a solid propellant engine and can be launched by either the M270 system Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) as by the more advanced M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

Ukraine now has both MLRS, a self-propelled vehicle equipped with tracks, and HIMARSwhich is mounted on a military truck.

The Ukrainian authorities have requested the supply of ATACMS for almost two years and after having obtained Western tanks this missile system is the first item on kyiv’s list of demands.

The Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelenskydeclared last January 2023 that “Ukraine needs long-range missiles to deprive the invaders of the opportunity to place their missile launchers away from the combat front and destroy Ukrainian cities.”

The main characteristic of the ATACMS that Ukraine incorporates into its arsenal is the ability to attack Russian forces at long range with great precision.

Although the Ukrainian armed forces already have numerous artillery systems, the range of their current equipment is limited to about 40 kilometers.

Ukraine began ordering ATACMS missiles almost a year ago. (REUTERS)

He United Kingdom y France They began to supply Ukraine with cruise missiles Storm Shadow/SCALPbut they have to be launched from airplanes, which limits their use.

The 300 kilometers of the ATACMS, as well as its mobility and its capacity to transport different types of explosives, makes the entire Crimean peninsula now within reach of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Military analysts have indicated that Ukraine will concentrate the use of ATACMS to attack airports in Crimea, from where they operate Russian military aircraft, air defense systems, supply routes, weapons warehouses and other military or military-use infrastructure.

The use of ATACMS will make it possible to very effectively degrade the logistical capacity of the Russian armed forces, which will facilitate the counteroffensive that Ukraine is currently developing.

One of those key infrastructures for Russia is the Kerch bridge, connecting Russian territory with Crimea and it is one of the main supply routes for the Russian forces.

Ukraine has already successfully attacked the bridge twice, but to do so it has had to resort to complicated military operations that have allegedly involved the use of maritime drones. The arrival of ATACMS to the Ukrainian arsenal will allow Ukraine to multiply these attacks.

(With information from EFE)

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