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First launch of ATACMS. Airport strikes

First launch of ATACMS.  Airport strikes

Photo: UP

On the night of October 17, the Ukrainian Armed Forces launched precision strikes on airfields of Russian troops near the occupied Berdyansk (Zaporozhye region) and Lugansk.

Ukraine received and used long-range American ATACMS missiles on the battlefield for the first time. As a result of attacks on airfields near the temporarily occupied Lugansk and Berdyansk, at least 9 enemy helicopters and many other objects, including air defense systems, were destroyed. This was the largest single loss of helicopters and one of the largest losses of Russian aviation during the entire invasion of Ukraine. And also one of the most successful attacks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the rear positions of the invaders.

Perfect Attack

The operation of the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces was called Dragonfly. MTR said they had information in advance about the Russians’ use of the airports in Berdyansk and Lugansk, as well as about the presence there of “a large amount of Russian aviation and special equipment and ammunition.”

After checking and confirming this information, the coordinates for the target and other necessary data are transferred to the units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces. As a result, as a result of the fire, according to MTR, the following were destroyed at the airports in Berdyansk and Lugansk:

– nine Russian helicopters of various modifications;

– special equipment located at airports;

– air defense launcher;

– ammunition warehouse;

– damaged airfield runways.

The Russians also lost dozens of military personnel killed and wounded. According to the MTR, as of noon on October 17, their bodies were still being pulled out from under the rubble.

The ammunition depot in Berdyansk exploded before 4 am, and the bombing in Lugansk continued until 11 am.

The representative of the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Yuriy Ignat, separately emphasized that the destruction of Russian helicopters during the attack was important for Ukraine due to the fact that the invaders were widely using this front against the military of Ukraine. At the same time, he did not disclose other details of the attack.

Russia without helicopters

Alexey Melnik, co-director of foreign policy and international security programs at the Razumkov Center, explained that it is the use of multi-purpose Mi-8 helicopters, Mi-24 and Ka-52 attack helicopters that cause many problems for the offensive. of Ukrainian. forces on the southern and eastern fronts.

“The biggest problem is that these helicopters can launch anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) of the Vikhr, Shturm-V and Ataka-M types from a maximum range of 8-10 km. But even we do not take the maximum value, but 5-6 km, then the enemy aircraft still does not enter the affected area of ​​the Ukrainian man-portable anti-aircraft missile system (MANPADS). And because the flights and approaches as the launch lines are carried out by the Russians at very low altitudes, it is almost impossible for Ukrainian ground-based radar stations to detect such a helicopter,” said Melnyk.

Secret transfer

Until now, neither the White House nor the Ukrainian side has officially confirmed the provision of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. However, in the evening, President Vladimir Zelensky confirmed that ATACMS was used in Ukraine.

“Thank you to everyone who fights and works for Ukraine! Thank you to everyone who helped! And now, special thanks to the United States. Our agreements with President Biden are being fulfilled. They are being carried out precisely – the ” -attack” have shown themselves,” Zelensky said.

Before this, the American publication The Wall Street Journal reported that over the past few days, the United States has secretly sent a “small number” of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Defense Forces have they have been used specifically to attack. two airfields in Lugansk and Berdyansk occupied by Russia.

The Power of ATACMS

During the day, pictures appeared on Russian telegram channels showing missile debris and unexploded submunitions said to have been found at the site of the Berdyansk airfield attack. The authenticity of these photos has not been confirmed.

Submunitions are small bombs released when a cluster munition – a rocket, bomb or shell – is detonated. They increase the affected area.

One of the photos shows a small object similar to the M74 submunition, which is used in the MGM-140 missile with a cluster warhead.

Another photo shows a part of the missile with markings, indicating that it belongs to the very first series – MGM-140A (M39) and was produced in October 1996. If the photo is real, then this missile has a range of up to 165 kilometers, but carries a more powerful warhead.

Subsequent models of these missiles had a range of up to 300 kilometers, but they had less powerful warheads.

Ukraine wants to receive ATACMS operational-tactical missiles from 2022, but the United States is afraid that the Ukrainian Armed Forces will launch strikes on the territory of Russia, and this can greatly worsen the relationship between Washington and Moscow.

Experts suggest that in the future the Ukrainian Armed Forces will try to hit large but poorly protected targets in open space with missiles. For example, air defense or artillery positions, airfields, warehouses and, possibly, personnel of Russian units.

Russia has air defense systems capable of countering ballistic missiles. For example, S-400. However, they have not encountered such missiles so far, and will likely have to adjust their defenses differently to account for the new threats.

It is not known how many missiles Ukraine will receive.

Source: korrespondent

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