Europe

HIMARS, a US-made rocket system, helped boost Ukraine

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From the first weeks of the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with any government willing to listen that his country was overwhelmed by the Russian military. If Ukraine was to survive, he said, it needed longer-range weapons.

Responding to that call in June, Washington delivered the first batch of truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers known as HIMARS, which fire satellite-guided rockets to a range of about 50 miles, greater than anything Ukraine previously possessed.

Since then, these weapons have helped Ukraine change the momentum of the war.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said 63 servicemen died on New Year’s Day in an attack on a building in Donetsk province that officials from both sides said was carried out using weapons. a HIMARS system. The Ukrainian army estimated that hundreds of people were killed in the attack.

The HIMARS system – the acronym stands for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – is most effective when deployed against stationary targets that can be identified in advance and located, such as munitions dumps, infrastructure or concentrations of troops. The United States has so far supplied Ukraine with at least 20 HIMARS systems, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

Ukrainian forces began deploying the rocket launchers last summer as part of a counter-offensive aimed at retaking land in the southern Kherson region.

From late July, Ukraine used the artillery rocket system to attack the Antonivsky Bridge, cutting off a key supply line for thousands of troops it had stationed in the western bank city of Kherson. of the Dnipro. Eventually, the Kremlin ordered its forces to withdraw from the city.

“They patiently destroyed Russian logistics and command and control, making it impossible for Russia to maintain forces on the west bank of the Dnipro,” said Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, in an analysis of the war published on Substack.

Western military analysts said Monday’s strike reflected a change in tactics. Ukrainian commanders used the rockets primarily to hit munitions dumps and supply lines, but recently they have targeted more barracks and other troop concentrations, said Michael Kofman, director of Russian studies at the NAC, a research institute in Arlington, Virginia.

“The influx of mobilized personnel on the front lines has visibly made them vulnerable to strikes,” he said.

Mr Kofman said recent HIMARS strikes had less overall impact on the war than when they were first introduced over the summer and reduced Russia’s advantage in artillery .

So far, rocket launchers have not brought much change to the front lines in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, where Monday’s deadly strike on a school took place used as barracks. Russia has controlled much of the territory since 2014 and has significant defenses.

But rocket launchers were used to hit other troop concentrations to the east. Russian state news agency, Tass, said in December that a HIMARS hit a hotel in Luhansk province. Ukrainian authorities said the hotel was a base for the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which played an important role in Moscow’s campaign in Donbass.

Mr O’Brien argued that weapons like the HIMARS would most likely be important as the war enters its second year.

“The first step in any Ukrainian road to victory will be the continuation of this great wasteful phase in which we find ourselves,” he wrote, adding that Ukraine “will rely primarily on ranged weapons to methodically dismantle the Russian forces facing him”.

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nytimes Eur

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