Ukraine seeks US replacement for ballistic missile systems

Ukraine seeks US replacement for ballistic missile systems

HIMARS should be used instead of Soviet-era Tochka-U systems, says Kyiv intelligence chief

Kyiv considers the US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to be the best replacement for its destroyed Soviet-era Tochka-U missile systems, Ukrainian Defense Ministry intelligence chief Kirill Budanov has said.

During an interview with the Washington Post on Sunday, Budanov noted that the Tochka-U currently remains the longest-range system in the Ukrainian military arsenal. However, he complained that “very few are left” after five months of fighting with Russia.

Tochka-U (NATO reporting name ‘SS-21 Scarab’) is a tactical ballistic missile system, in existence since the 1970s. It carries a single missile and has a range of 120 kilometers (75 miles). According to the Russian military, Kyiv had about 40 Tochka-U launchers at the beginning of the conflict with Moscow.

But now the Ukrainian forces have HIMARS, which the Americans had supplied to Kyiv, and “we will fight with these,” the intelligence chief said.

As of July 22, Kyiv had received 16 High Mobility Multiple Rocket Launchers from Washington. The HIMARS that have been provided have a range of 85 kilometers (53 miles).

But the system can also be equipped with Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) ammunition, making it capable of hitting targets up to 300 kilometers (nearly 186 miles) away.

Until now, the Biden administration has been reluctant to provide ATACMS to the Ukrainian military over concerns that they could be used for attacks on Russian territory, further escalating the conflict.

“If we get the longest range munitions for HIMARS, we will use them. And the Russians know that, either way, it’s the end for them with these weapons.” Budanov insisted.

He also rejected Moscow’s claims that between July 5 and 20 its forces had blown up four of the US-supplied launchers in Ukraine. “We have not lost a single HIMARS, despite what the Russians claim,” he said.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry also announced that it had destroyed a stockpile of ammunition for US-made HIMARS and M777 howitzers in western Ukraine.

During a visit to kyiv over the weekend, the head of the US House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, said the United States and its allies plan to provide Ukraine with an additional 25-30 rocket systems, including both high-mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS).

However, even those supplies are unlikely to meet Kyiv’s demands. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov said last month that the country’s army would need 50 HIMARS to mount an effective defense and at least 100 to “an effective counteroffensive”.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.