Russian Helicopters, Aircraft Damaged in First Ever ATACMS Rocket Firing

Ukraine fired ATACMS at Russian Berdyansk airfield, as per reports
  • Bureau
  • 08:40 AM, October 18, 2023
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Russian Helicopters, Aircraft Damaged in First Ever ATACMS Rocket Firing
Spent MGM-140A missile engine, Berdyansk, October 17, 2023.

The Ukrainian Missile Forces unleashed a volley of five American MGM-140A Army Tactical Missile Complex System (ATACMS) ballistic missiles against Russian Berdyansk airfield, causing significant damage to helicopters, personnel, and military infrastructure.

Use of these powerful missiles was unveiled with revealing photographs of spent rocket engines strewn near the airfield.

The MGM-140A ATACMS is a first-generation ballistic missile with a maximum range of 165 kilometers, propelled by a solid fuel engine. It employs an autonomous inertial guidance system with laser gyroscopes, though it lacks GPS satellite signal correction. This system yields an accuracy of approximately 225-250 meters in terms of circular deviation from the target.

While the missile's precision might not be its strongest suit, it compensates for it with a formidable cluster warhead weighing 560 kilograms. This warhead houses 950 M74 submunitions filled with the M39 warhead, designed to inflict damage on open-area targets through blast energy and debris. These submunitions have a diameter of 75mm and are capable of generating a zone of damage up to 15 square meters, making them a potent choice for striking enemy military assets.

The acquisition of MGM-140A ATACMS missiles by the Ukrainian military provides a range of new opportunities. This quasi-ballistic missile, characterized by its high speed and steep flight trajectory, is challenging to intercept with anti-aircraft defense systems. To effectively counter such missiles, an echeloned air defense system is required.

Furthermore, the ability to launch ground-based ballistic missiles stealthily enhances the element of surprise, in contrast to the Storm Shadow missile launches tied to the departure of Su-24M bombers, which can be monitored by Russian intelligence.

Russian Helicopters, Aircraft Damaged in First Ever ATACMS Rocket Firing
ATACMS rocket fired from M270 MLRS

One of the most significant advantages lies in the missile's cartridge warhead, which can inflict substantial damage across a wide area. This capability will increase the potential losses incurred by the enemy, especially in the event of a breach of air defense systems surrounding the occupier's air bases.

The striking range of the MGM-140A encompasses airfields in Dzhankoy, Luhansk, Berdyansk, and Mariupol, including the strategically vital ports of the latter two cities, through which Russian military logistics flow.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, confirmed the use of U.S. long-range ATACMS missiles by Ukrainian troops.

“Today, I am especially grateful to the United States. Our agreements with President Biden are being implemented. They are being implemented very accurately – the ATACMS have proven themselves. Glory to Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

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