Will ATACMS missiles become an easy target for Russian air defenses?

 Before the possibility of the US supplying ATACMS missiles to Ukraine, military analysts have paid special attention to the ability of Russian air defense to intercept this type of attack.

As part of the next military support package, the MGM-140 ATACMS tactical ballistic missile with a range of 300 km is likely to be supplied to the Ukrainian Armed Forces by the United States in the shortest possible time.

On August 25, a Russian military observer – retired Colonel Mikhail Khodarenok made his comments about this weapon in an interview with PolitExpert (PE).

The expert noted that ATACMS missiles can be deployed from mobile launchers M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS. This weapon has a range of 140 – 300 km depending on the version because they have very different weights.

At the same time, the accuracy of rockets also varies greatly between generations. In early ATACMS versions, the circle of error (CEP) could be up to 250 meters, which is even much worse than the Tochka-U of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Therefore, the Americans can hardly risk supplying outdated ammunition and will deliver to Kyiv high-precision missiles with a CEP of at least 10 meters to rule out combat accidents and unnecessary accusations from Moscow.

“By the way, it should be noted again that the accuracy of the target coordinates and the launch pad itself greatly affect the effectiveness of knocking down the target.”

“Ukraine’s military has frequent flaws in this regard, so the new generation of weapons in their hands may not be as effective as they should be,” the Russian military analyst reminded.

At the same time, Mr. Khodarenok also drew attention to the fact that the US itself does not have many ATACMS missiles with high accuracy, about less than 1,000, and they are very expensive. Therefore, Washington will not transfer more than 50 munitions to Kyiv.

But even such a small number cannot be ignored, and the Russian air defense forces must take the following effective measures to be able to destroy them.

First, it is necessary to quickly detect and destroy the launchers with the combat crew. Second, stockpiles need to be identified and eliminated early.

Third, the construction of Russia’s air defense system in Ukraine, including the protection of particularly important facilities and the entire region from air attack. Fourth, the movement of communication lines on the path of the Northeastern Military District deep into the territory of Ukraine.

The expert added that the powerful ATACMS missile will become an easier target for Russian air defenses. In essence, ATACMS ammunition is easier to shoot down with S-300/400 and Buk-M2/3 systems than with GMLRS or HARM anti-radar missiles.

When launching ATACMS at the maximum range, the ability to detect and intercept when they enter the area affected by the aforementioned air defense systems will be ensured, due to the high altitude of the tactical missile. and does not have high mobility.

“The ATACMS missile can pose a significant threat as part of a combined attack tactic using heterogeneous means, creating a large number of targets to disrupt air defenses and increase muscle strength. breakthrough society”.

“But the Russian air defense forces have many modern weapons in their service and also have a lot of combat experience, which will quickly neutralize ATACMS missiles as soon as they are used,” concluded expert Mikhail Khodarenok.

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