Bridges that fall in seconds. Destroyed warehouses dozens of kilometers from the front. Reducing damage caused by Russian missiles.
In the last month, this is how the situation with the hostilities in Ukraine looks. The main credit for this, according to Western intelligence, goes to the Ukrainian military forces, and according to some acknowledgments by Moscow, the weapons that the West provides to Kyiv.
Ukraine had Western and NATO weapons even before the start of the war. Then its symbols were anti-tank systems Javelin and the Turkish drone Bayraktar. Now the situation has seriously changed.
After months of Western countries refraining from sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, many of those barriers have now fallen. Missile systems, artillery, air defense, drones.
All this is now in the arsenal of the Ukrainian army. What are the most effective weapons and why exactly are they enabling Ukraine to turn the tide of the war?
The superiority of HIMARS from the USA
The main weapon, which even in the words of Volodymyr Zelensky changing the course of war, is the mobile artillery missile system M142 HIMARS.
It was this system that was used for dozens struck deep in the rear of the Russian armywhich led to the destruction of command posts, weapons depots, strategic bridges and others.
The missile system is located on a highly mobile five-ton truck, and the total weight, together with the system, reaches 16.2 tons.
The system has 6 guided missiles that are launched in a very short period. They are highly accurate, and this allows Ukrainian forces to hit strictly defined military targets, unlike the mass destruction caused by Russian missiles or those used by russian army cluster bombs.
The main advantage of this missile system is the range of the missiles with which the USA supplied Ukraine. The precision strikes that are delivered with it reach up to 80 km. The missiles themselves have GPS guidance, which makes the strikes on Russian targets even more accurate.
“We are seeing real, measurable progress that the Ukrainian military is making with the use of these systems. For example, the Ukrainians hit more than 400 targets with HIMARS, and it had a really striking effect,” said the Chief of the General Staff of the US Armed Forces, Gen. Mark Miley.
By comparison, the system with the largest range that Russia uses is BM-30 Smerchwhose range is 70 km.
With the HIMARS system, single tactical missiles can also be launched, which have a range of 300 km. So far, the US does not provide such equipment.
American missile systems from Europe
Following the example of the US and European countries, for months they refused to provide Ukraine with long-range missile systems. Like Washington, however, they have changed their position on the matter.
In June, just days after Joe Biden announced that Kyiv will receive HIMARS systems, Britain’s defense minister Ben Wallace said the UK would provide six M270 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) systems.
The system is American and has been in service with the US Army since the 1980s. It is also used by some of the NATO allies. On the battlefield, the weapon was used in the Gulf War in the 1990s, as well as in the invasion of Iraq.
Like the HIMARS, the M270MLRS fires missiles with a range of up to 80 km. Over the years, manufacturers from Lockheed Martin make a number of improvements, both in terms of the non-armored hull and the missile system itself, significantly improving its accuracy to approach the capabilities of HIMARS.
Apart from Britain, Germany and Norway were the other countries that announced that they would send similar systems to Ukraine. In September, the government of Olaf Scholz announced that two additional M270MLRS will be sent to Kyiv, to the already delivered three M270MLRS.
Howitzers from Slovakia and Poland
Unlike Bulgaria, other Eastern European countries, some of which have little defense capacity, do not refrain from sending weapons to Ukraine.
Slovakia sent its Soviet S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine. However, that is not all.
Bratislava also promised eight 155 mm self-propelled howitzers “Zuzana”. This is an improved version of the DANA howitzers produced in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s.
Another of the 155 mm howitzers in NATO service that was delivered to Ukraine is the Polish AHS Krab. Polish authorities reported sending 18 of those weapons to Ukraine, and in September it emerged that one of them had been lost due to a technical malfunction. They have a range of between 30 and 40 km.
Despite the criticism of Germany that Ukraine has leveled at Berlin’s slow reactions, German weapons are also available at the front. By mid-July, along with the Netherlands, Germany had sent 12 Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000. This is also a 155 mm self-propelled howitzer that began to be produced in West Germany in the 1980s and 1990s. Like some of the other weapons that are sent to Ukraine, the PzH2000 has undergone improvements over the years. One of the systems added after improvements successfully launched projectiles more than 60 km.
Germany promised to provide a total of 100 PzH2000 to Ukraine.
Howitzers of the Russian army are Hyacinth-B (2A36)which fires projectiles up to 40 km, and D-30which first entered service at the end of the Second World War and can fire at targets up to 22 km away.
Ukraine also has similar weapons.
Norwegian (and US) Sky Defense
In the heat of the summer, a piece of news about US action was passed over. In July, Joe Biden announced Washington’s seemingly strange decision to purchase two of the advanced anti-aircraft systems for Ukraine NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System). For the first time, the news that they were received by Ukrainian forces was confirmed days ago by Volodymyr Zelensky.
The development of the system began in the 90s and is a joint project of the Norwegian private arms company KDA with the American Raytheon Technologies for the benefit of the Norwegian Air Force. The system is operated by two people. One battery has the capacity to launch 12 missiles at a radius between 30 and 50 km. The radar systems detect and fix targets within a radius of 120 km. Targets that can be hit by the system can be located between 21 and 35 km. height.
According to experts, NASAMS is a more efficient system than the American ones “The Patriot”and this is evidenced by the fact that similar systems are used to defend the airspace around the White House.
“The Drone Army”
Drones proved to be one of the most effective methods the Ukrainian military used to repel Russian attacks, especially early in the war. In addition to direct attacks, they are also used for reconnaissance. Since August, the aim of the Ukrainian Air Force is to increase its fleet by another 1,200 drones.
Many citizens also joined this effort, either donating money or collecting money, buying and sending the equipment to the battlefield in Ukraine.
Some of the drones are commercial, such as DJI matrix 300. However, the Ukrainian military makes special modifications and adds infrared cameras to them and increases the perimeter in which they can fly.
Another of the intelligence apparatus is UJ-22. The interesting thing about this drone is that it has a gasoline engine. It can fly at an altitude of up to 6000 m for 10 hours.
Along with acquiring more and more drones, the Ukrainian army has set itself the goal of training about 2,000 people to operate them.