How ATACMS can change the war in Ukraine.
Russian propagandists fear the supply of American ATACMS ballistic missiles to Ukraine.
“There won’t be a single place for large Russian warships in the Black Sea to hide,” expert Mikhail Khodarenok complained on the 60 Minutes Russian propaganda show.
Are the fears of Russians justified? Charter97.org spoke about this with Ukrainian military analyst, reserve colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Chernik.
– If we talk about ATACMS systems, then these are weapons that can change the course of the war. The only question is quantity. If they give us a few dozen, that’s, of course, very good. We will destroy something, we will “get to” some objects, but we will not turn the tide of the war. I will say that the Americans have 4,000 such missiles in their depots.
That's why ATACMS systems are needed. Firstly, this is a ballistic missile with a speed of 5400 kilometres per hour, it is almost impossible to shoot it down. Its range is up to 300 kilometres. It stays in the air for several minutes. The Russians have no means to counter it.
Secondly, these missiles outperform both SCALP, Storm Shadow, and Taurus, which are launched from aircraft and integrated into the Soviet Su-24. The Su-24 is a heavy and old craft that needs service, a missile must be placed on it, and the pilots must sit in the cockpit, take off, go to the launch line, carry out the launch and return. It takes a lot of time. In addition, these aircraft are constantly being hunted. The enemy often attacks our airfields. We save aircraft, but they need to be constantly lifted into the air.
ATACMS are launched using HIMARS and M270 MLRS. They work at night, the enemy cannot detect them, and the recharging takes 15-20 minutes. In half a day you can “pour in” several dozen, or even hundreds of missiles. Why? Ukraine is second in the world after the USA in the number of HIMARS and M270 MLRS. We have enough of these systems.
A day of working with such missiles can bleed the Russians’ logistics all the way to Mariupol and Berdiansk. Is it possible to potentially reach the Crimean Bridge with these missiles? Yes, that’s possible. There are slightly more than 260 kilometres from Kerch to Huliaipole, the missile's effective range is up to 300 kilometres. This is possible, but there is also one thing: how many of them will they give to us? If the first batch is 30 missiles, this will be a big step forward.
– You said that SCALP and Storm Shadow missiles are used with the help of Soviet fighter jets today. What will change when they are used with the F-16?
– Accuracy and maneuverability will change. We understand that the Su-24 and F-16 are not comparable in their performance. But in order to turn the tide of war, quantity, quantity and quantity are important. Only a few thousand SCALP and Storm Shadow missiles have been manufactured. If we have several hundred of these missiles, that’s very good. However, I am a skeptic on this issue and I think that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have several dozen. Germany declares that they have only a few hundred Taurus missiles; if they give you a third, that’s already good.
Let me emphasize that such a number of missiles is simply super. It flew to the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, a major landing craft was destroyed in a dry dock, which cannot be restored, and a Varshavianka-type submarine was destroyed - that’s 300 million dollars. However, only quantity will provide a real effect.
The F-16 jets, by the way, may be equipped with AGM-88 HARM missiles. It can operate at a distance of up to 1000 kilometres. By the way, there are also a lot of these missiles - more than 5,000 pieces. Again, the only question is the number that will be transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. What will be the number? I don’t have an answer to this question.
– What exact number of ATACMS missiles is needed to turn the tide of the war in Ukraine?
— Within 1000. With the help of a thousand missiles, we can hold the southern bridgehead for several days without any logistics.
— Lately, he regularly flies to sites in the occupied Crimea. What happened to the vaunted Russian air defense, which in Crimea, according to them, is better than Moscow?
— In Crimea, the air defense system is not better, but more dense. It would be more correct to say that. There are more of them. But it turns out that their air defense cannot compete with the best Western weapons. This is very good news, because the Russians are still the second largest manufacturers of air defense systems in the world.
The S-400 system (especially the Triumph) on world markets is quoted at $1.2 billion per division (division - 4-6 launchers and a good dozen additional vehicles). Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey bought one division, India - they will now think about whether they will buy such products, because they are no longer competitive. And this is a blow to the Russian Federation’s wallet, and a blow to the wallet is a blow to the entire military-industrial complex. This is great, but this is a long-term process. There is already an effect - Egypt refused to buy the Su-35, India withdrew from the development of the Su-57. However, these are not weeks or months, but years.
– Will Russian air defence be able to cope with ATACMS?
– There have been no confirmed cases of even Storm Shadow and SCALP being shot down so far. Even a dozen have already been used, and there is no confirmation that any missiles were shot down. They would have obviously shown it if Russian air defence systems shot down such a missile.
The speed of Storm Shadow and Taurus is 1000 km/h and it’s possible to shoot them down. The Triumph, for example, declares the ability to shoot down targets at speeds of 3,000-4,000 km/h. The ATACAMS has a speed of 5,400 km/h. These are missiles that are five times faster than Storm Shadow and Taurus.
I can't imagine what they'll use to shoot down the ATACAMS since they can't handle the Storm Shadow.
– Will it be possible to cover the Black Sea with these missiles?
– Only partially. The range of the ATACAMS is 300 kilometres. Crimea has 250 kilometers from south to north. We add a conventional point of 20 kilometres from the contact line because we are to ensure the safety of the vehicles, no one will bring such weapons to zero point. The depth of the occupation is from 70 to 150 kilometres, the closest point where the Ukrainian forces are located is Verbovoe and Robotyne. But we understand that no one will deploy these weapons there.
The best point is Huliaipole, just below Zaporizhzhia. Let’s consider 300 kilometres away from it. This is a large part of the Crimean peninsula and you can reach Kerch. If we take the Black Sea water area, then 300 kilometres from, let’s say, Odesa. However, not the entire water area is covered. They have heavy frigates, for example, the Admiral Makarov, the patrol ships Vasily Bykov and Karakurt, which can go deep into the Black Sea, and the Caliber missile distance is 2,500 km. We can't reach them from this point.
Although we can reach 500-600-700 Odesa with the F-16 jets, and the missile range is 1000, then we can compete for targets that strike from the depths of the Black Sea.