Ukraine War Changes Tide Again: HIMARS. By David Evans.
For the last couple of months Russia has had the upper hand, even though it has run out of infantry. Russia hasn’t the manpower to attack broadly any more, and its armored vehicles are neutralized by the anti-tank weapons of the Ukrainians. But the Russian Army has always had lots of artillery compared to other armies, so they have adapted to their situation and have been successful in attacking on one narrow front.
From Will Schryver, who is obviously pro-Russian but captures the general dynamic well enough:
Here is a brief summation of the Russian tactical approach to the Battle of the Donbass:
Step #1: advance reconnaissance units (often in force, with dozens or hundreds of drones overhead) to assess the situation; draw fire; relay to commanders raw video and geo-coordinates
Step #2: with target-correcting drone swarms relaying real-time strike video, proceed to savage the fortifications with towed and mobile artillery, MLRS in gradations of strength and precision, and even horrific thermobaric munitions for particularly suitable targets.
Let smoke clear. Repeat Step #1.
Still something moving there? Repeat Step #2. Repeat Step #1.
Dead bodies everywhere?
Step #3: Send in tanks and infantry to mop up.
Move to next series of fortifications.
This is why Ukraine now suffers hundreds of KIAs [killed in actions] every day. And why, for months, the Russians have suffered very few casualties — at least a 1 to 10 ratio. Probably much lower.
The artillery (with occasional air and precision missile strikes) is doing all the fighting.
The problem for the Ukrainians has been that they don’t have enough artillery, and their artillery is too short range. The Ukrainian artillery is conventional and has a maximum range of around 25 km. But the Russian artillery has ranges up to about 50 km, so they can fire with impunity at the Ukrainian front lines.
However, the future of artillery is precision guided rockets. Rockets can travel further, and are cheaper and more robust because the electronics for the precision guidance doesn’t have to survive the huge explosion in the barrel of conventional artillery.
HIMARS is US rocket artillery that has a maximum range of about 75 km, accurate to within a couple of meters. First deployed in 2005, it has seen a lot of action in Afghanistan, and is well tested.
The US recently shipped eight HIMARS trucks to Ukraine. The Russians claim to have destroyed two, but four more are on the way. They are changing the tide of the war back to the Ukrainians:
Ukraine is using US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to undermine Russian artillery superiority by attacking its munition warehouses.
Twenty ammunition depots have been destroyed by the advanced weaponry supplied by the West, the Kyiv Independent reports.
As Insider’s Alisa Shoaib reported, Ukraine has sought new strategies in the eastern Donbas region where the war is concentrated. Earlier tactics, such as relying heavily on drone warfare, have proven less effective in the face of a better-organized Russian force.
The HIMARS are essentially truck-mounted, GPS-guided rocket launchers with a range of around 44 miles.
A Russian military blogger Andrey Morozov (widely known as “Murz”), quoted by Illia Ponomarenko, the defense and security reporter at the Kyiv Independent, said Putin’s troops were suffering from growing “munitions hunger” due to recent Ukrainian attacks. …
On Wednesday, President Zelenskyy said, “We finally feel that the Western artillery we received from our partners is working very powerfully.”
“Our defenders carry out painful strikes against warehouses and other important logistic nodes of the occupiers. And this materially lowers the offensive potential of the Russian army,” he said.
Serhiy Kuzan, the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center chair in Kyiv, told the Guardian that the delivery of HIMARS and howitzers have slowed Russia’s offensive, forcing them “to be more careful.”
“It allows us to participate in what is an artillery duel,” he said, per The Guardian. “And with the longer-range rockets, we have destroyed over 20 warehouses of Russian artillery.”
“After the capture of the rather small town of Lisichansk, … Russia can no longer attack. The Russian troops are slowing down, they are running out of resources, forces and the ability to conduct serious offensive operations,” the expert said.
Yakovina is sure that the combat effectiveness of the occupying army was significantly undermined by HIMARS.
“This is a dead end from which there is no good way out. The Russian army is no longer capable of advancing (or may soon lose this opportunity completely), and at the same time, it begins to suffer more and more serious losses, because HIMARS are doing absolutely terrible things, destroying warehouses, logistics centers, headquarters. Thus, Ukrainian long-range American-made missiles destroy the muscles, joints and nervous system of the Russian army,” the expert noted.
Yakovina noted that the occupiers could lose all their ammunition depots.
“If they do not remove the warehouses 100 km or more from the front line, then a guaranteed supply disruption, since these facilities will be destroyed, there will be a shortage of everything at the front. Even if they remove it, due to the fact that the distances become significant, there will be a shortage at the front and ammunition, and food. It turns out that the artillery does not shoot, the soldiers are starving, and the tanks are sitting without fuel. It will not work to attack in such a situation,” the expert said.
Putin is furious that his antiaircraft system, the S-400, cannot stop the HIMARS rockets as he was promised by corrupt Russian manufacturers:
Adviser to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko, stated in Facebook, that the use of the “HIMARS” anti-aircraft missile system by the Armed Forces of Ukraine caused a scandal among Russian manufacturers.
Gerashchenko noted: “The Russian Defense Ministry has started a showdown with the management of Almaz-Antey Concern, the manufacturer of the lauded S300 and S400 air defense systems.
Mikhail Fradkov, the head of the board and former Russian Prime Minister, and concern director Yan Novikov may not only lose their positions, but also face criminal charges for undermining Russia’s defense capabilities.
The leadership of this criminal organization, when signing many billion-dollar contracts for the supply of S-400, guaranteed that their air defense system would be guaranteed to shoot down not only planes and helicopters, but also missiles launched by American HIMARS. …
The technical characteristics of the flagship air defense system were overstated many times over, and the money allocated for the development of the S400 was stolen.
The deception proved to be recent when the C400s failed to shoot down a single HIMARS missile in the Donbass, Zaporozhye, or Kherson regions. Not only that, during the strike on the Russian military base in Khartsyzsk, HIMARS missiles destroyed the C400 complex that was supposed to cover the area from air strikes.
In other words, the C400 air defense system is not only unable to protect the airspace, but is not even able to protect itself!
The Ukrainians say they will have 700,000 troops in its Army soon, compared to about 180,00 Russians in Ukraine. If Russia doesn’t mobilize or raise its game to an official war footing, it risks being thrown out of Ukraine.