The Ukrainians are on the hook

Olga Bozheva

A video was posted on the Web, filmed at the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station after it was shelled by American HIMARS rockets. Three holes were fixed in the slab, which is located in the most vulnerable place – above the lock zone, that is, where the roadbed does not rest on the body of the dam itself. Experts note the high accuracy of shells that hit almost one point over 100 kilometers.
How to deal with such high-precision weapons and is there 100% protection against them? About this “MK” asked the ex-chief of the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Special Forces Command (air defense district of Moscow), reserve colonel Sergei Khatylev.
Experts note that, having broken through the slab, the shells could not destroy it completely. The bridge has retained its strength and even cars can pass over it. According to experts, this is due to the low power of the charge. But the same HIMARS can launch not only rockets at a range of up to 120 km, but also operational-tactical missiles with a range of 300 km. And it must be assumed that with the same high accuracy, these missiles are already much more powerful. How to protect yourself from this weapon?
“The effectiveness of the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) HIMARS is primarily due to the fact that they use NATO intelligence data in their work, as the Ukrainians themselves and representatives of the Pentagon openly declare,” says Sergey Khatylev. – These are both American satellites and AWACS airborne early warning aircraft that hover over Poland and Romania 24 hours a day and are able to monitor the situation over almost all of Ukraine.
All flights of our aviation, the movement of ground forces, the launches of our missiles are recorded by NATO with an accuracy of up to a meter, after which all information goes to Ukrainian headquarters, to command posts, from where HIMARS are directly controlled. This is done by Americans and representatives of Western countries, there are almost no Ukrainians there.

  • Where are such decision-making centers located?
  • On the territory of Ukraine. These are such joint command posts where both Ukrainians and Western representatives are located. And there are also command posts that directly control the HIMARS complexes, which is called “in the field”, where they are located close to each other. Information is received there on notification and target designation, when necessary. And such information comes not to one launcher, but to several at once. Such a distributed control principle is applied both in our country and among the Americans.
  • Let’s still clarify: for example, several HIMARS installations are located somewhere near Kharkov…
  • There, by the way, their main base is located.
    -… And from there, from near Kharkov, they can hit at a distance of more than 100 kilometers?
  • Apparently, they have missiles that can hit at a distance of 170, and possibly up to 270 kilometers. In this case, we are talking about guided missiles. But there are very few of them in Ukraine.
    Only guided missiles are used to strike stationary objects like bridges. They have improved accuracy. That is why we observe such accuracy of firing at the Kakhovka dam. But if the object is mobile, and the missiles are unguided, then they will no longer be able to provide such accuracy in pointing missiles. HIMA-RS has this weak spot.
  • They say that another weak point is low power. They have enough accuracy, but not enough power to destroy an object with one or two missiles. But if long-range missiles arrive in Ukraine, then it must be understood that they will already be more powerful? Ukrainians no longer have to hit the same point several times?
  • In this case, roughly speaking, the consumption of missiles will decrease. But again, for the destruction of stationary targets. The characteristics of this complex are realized only when firing at previously reconnoitered data, and stationary objects tied to GPS coordinates, which can be fired several times. For moving targets, the effectiveness of HIMARS is very low. They have a problem with this. And we need to use this fact.
  • Why do they work more precisely on stationary objects, but cannot hit moving targets like that? Is it because these complexes cannot receive space reconnaissance data used in firing in real time?
  • Because the speed of processing information on a moving target should be much greater than when working on a stationary target. It doesn’t matter for targets moving in the air or on the ground, you need to calculate the average speed of movement, catch the moment when the target enters the affected area, and after that, within a certain time frame and at limited distances, you can get to the desired point. Therefore, a moving target for HIMARS is very difficult.
  • Where does the space intelligence data required by HIMARS initially go?
  • To the same command post of an association, or g-rouping of troops, where t-here is an automated contr-ol system. After that, in aut-omatic mode, at high speed, target designation is issued directly to the HIMARS complex, which should enter the combat position.
    This complex is a very highly mobile vehicle, its speed of movement is 85 kilometers per hour. HIMARS are prepared in such a way that as soon as they receive target designation, they arrive at a high speed at the point where they need to shoot. Having made a shot, they immediately decrease from there. That is why it is very difficult to spot them.
  • And whose combat crews work on these HIMARS? Are there Americans there?
  • Just the Americans are. Only they make decisions.
  • Well, how? Did they say that the Ukrainian military was trained to work on these complexes?
  • Ukrainians are used there only as drivers, loaders – only in the wings. Directly the head of the calculation and the second officer are always foreigners. I emphasize – always NATO officers.
  • So, from the command posts of military groups, these HIMARS are even more controlled by NATO officers?
  • The command posts of military or territorial groups, from where the Ukrainian troops are controlled, as a rule, are combined. They are just the representatives who work in the line of management of the HIMARS complexes.
    If we draw an analogy with our Ground Forces, then we can say that the HIMARS rocket system refers to the missile forces and artillery. We have a representative of this type of troops at the command post of a combined arms division or army in order to organize the interaction of all forces and means.
    They have the same. The same specialist or a group of specialists organize such interaction. They just receive all the satellite and other intelligence information. As a rule, this information is for several purposes. Then it is transferred directly to combat crews. Command posts decide which of the launchers is closer to the target, which are farther, and to whom to issue target designation.
    After that, a team comes directly to each HIMARS complex to work on a specific goal. The calculation works out it, then receives data on the next one, since HIMARS cannot fire at several targets at the same time.
  • Are you saying that at all command posts and directly at the HIMARS complexes themselves, everything is done by the Americans?
  • Absolutely right. Either the Americans, or some Western specialists, since HIMARS are available in Germany, Denmark, and are in service in a number of other NATO countries.
  • Why do we still miss HIMARS missiles that fly, for example, over bridges?
  • Well, firstly, we are still learning a lot. And we learn successfully – we shoot down more and more. When, for example, they worked on the Kakhovskiy bridge, out of 12 HIMARS missiles we destroyed seven, and earlier on Alekseevsky, out of six, we shot down four.
    In addition, now the artillery of the Ground Forces has the opportunity to use special equipment with a 55K-1 homing projectile. It’s called Motive. In the future, it will become an effective means of combating HIMARS. Now its application is being actively developed.
  • Some experts argue that the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system could have worked much more effectively against HIMARS than our systems.
  • The Israeli “Dome” has a very high efficiency when used to combat unguided projectiles. It was made that way precisely because the Palestinians used unguided homemade Qassam rockets against Israeli cities. But in the fight against guided missiles there appear serious difficulties. Moreover, HIMARS uses the latest generation of guided missiles, which can be adjusted and retargeted already in flight. So against HIMARS missiles, the Israeli “Dome” would certainly have shown low efficiency.
    With these American MLRS, we will have to learn to fight on our own. And this is getting better and better every day.