His troops can’t intercept HIMARS missiles

The M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) are some of the Western-supplied weapons that have the potential to shift the balance of power in the war in Ukraine in Kiev’s favor. Dozens of weapons depots and other invader assets have already been neutralised with their help.

Russia seems incapable of intercepting HIMARS missiles, despite having, on paper, several systems capable of doing so. Examples are the S-400 and the Pantsir-S1. One military expert, Ryan McBeth, says the success of the HIMARS platform in this military conflict is also due to the clever way the Ukrainians are using it.

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The strategy is not complicated. American-made missiles are usually fired in conjunction with Soviet-launched ones from similar systems, e.g. the much simpler and imprecise BM-21 Grad. A HIMARS missile travels at a speed of 2,940 km/h, and those used by Grad at about 2,570 km/h. The latter can be fired a little earlier to compensate for the slower speed.

BM-21 Grad system (Photo: Wikimedia)

Thus, it is difficult for Russian defenses to select the most dangerous targets, as they are overwhelmed with a “barrage” of missiles, some highly accurate and most others inaccurate. Dozens of dots appear on the Russian radar, and Putin’s troops are unable to retaliate or find the exact locations of the HIMARS platforms.

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McBeth notes that Ukraine did an extraordinary job when it decided to combine cheap Soviet weapons, available in large quantities, with sophisticated ones received from the West.

Russia can upgrade, software and hardware, anti-aircraft systems to distinguish faster missiles, but this cannot be done in a short time. The situation is made worse for the Russians by a shortage of components, caused by sanctions imposed by Ukraine’s allies, and by the fact that “bright minds” are emigrating at an accelerating rate.

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