Ukraine’s new ATACMS missiles perfectly exploit a gap in Russia’s tactics, expert says – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Ukraine’s new ATACMS missiles perfectly exploit a gap in Russia’s tactics, expert says

An October 2023 still image showing Ukraine firing its US-donated ATACMS into the night.

Twitter/GeneralStaffUA

Ukraine has started using its US-donated ATACMS missiles to great effect.
An expert told Insider that ATACMS get round Russia’s tactic of spreading out its key assets.
Its cluster munitions can hit multiple, spread-out targets, negating that advantage.

The long-range ATACMS missiles that Ukraine got from the US are putting Russia on the back foot, rendering one of its tactics less effective, an expert told Insider.

The weapon allows Ukraine to strike at great distances, reaching high-value targets like stores of weapons, equipment, and ammunition.

Ukraine said it used ATACMS in attacks on two airfields in Russian-occupied territory earlier this month, destroying Russian ammunition depots and helicopters and damaged the airfields.

Riley Bailey, a Russia analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, told Insider that ATACMS has a key an advantage over other long-range weapons Ukraine has, like Storm Shadow missiles from the UK and France and the HIMARS rocket system from the US.

That’s because ATACMS sent to Ukraine have cluster munitions instead of unitary warheads. Each one contains bomblets that spread and hit multiple targets with one strike.

This helps Ukraine get around Russia’s previous strategy to deal Ukraine’s previous long-range attacks, Bailey said.

Russia used to cluster its equipment, which made it vulnerable initially to HIMARS strikes, he said. But it learned its lesson and began spacing them out, making each hit less effective.

A Ukrainian M142 HIMARS launches a rocket near Bakhmut, Ukraine, in May 2023.

Photo by Serhii Mykhalchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

“Ukrainian forces were able to conduct strikes on ammunition depots with HIMARS that were very devastating and forced the Russian command to further disperse those ammunition depots,” Bailey said.

Russia “learned from previous mistakes” and was trying to ensure “one strike doesn’t cause many aviation losses.” 

But now Ukraine can hit equipment that is spread further apart thanks to the ATACMS cluster munitions.

Ukraine can hit “targets where you need to hit a wide range of targets in one location,” said Bailey.

Previously, Ukraine was stuck with a “one-for-one” system: “It would basically have to fire five Storm Shadow cruise missiles to destroy five helicopters.”

Ukraine announced it had damaged two Crimean bridges with a Storm Shadow missile on August 7, 2023

Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

“Whereas with the cluster munitions, it can destroy several helicopters at an airfield with just one ATACMS.”

Ukraine said at it expended at least four missiles in the ATACMS strike [which took out far more than four targets?].

Bailey said Russian commanders now had a new problem to adapt to, and may find it a bigger challenge than when they got used to Ukraine using HIMARS.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said ATACMS marked a “new chapter of this war” and mean there “are no more safe places for Russian troops” in Ukraine.

Russia’s only real option now, Bailey said, was spreading out assets further and further apart — which comes with major drawbacks.

“That’s going to stretch out a lot of the Russian logistics,” he said, which are already “heavily degraded.”

Aircraft being moved back further will make them less helpful for Russia, reducing the amount of time they can spend near the front before having to return to base.

The US said the ATACMS it gave Ukraine have a range of around 100 miles. The US did not say how many missiles it sent, or whether it would send more.

Newer versions can travel around 190 miles, though a US officials said Ukraine got the older model since the US wants to keep the newer ones for its own reserves.

A Ukrainian official said he believes Ukraine will later get the new version, though the US hasn’t committed to that.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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