Defective Fuze and out of reach Russian soldiers, the fall and fall of HIMARS MRLS in Ukraine?

The Russian Armed Forces have destroyed nearly a dozen multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS), including HIMARS, MLRS, and MARS-II, in the past few days.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

Once called a wonder weapon, the effectiveness of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) has been sapping in the Russia – Ukraine conflict. 

Fuze issues

The representatives of the DPR and LPR stated on December 18, at the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of Issues Related to War Crimes (JCCC) in Ukraine, that the American multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) HIMARS M142 missiles are flawed; for example, their warhead frequently does not function. 

“The M31 missiles from the HIMARS M142 MLRS are imperfect, and there have already been more than five cases when the ammunition failed, that is, the fuse did not give an impulse to fire the warhead of the missile,” Roman Ivanov, deputy head of the LPR representative office in the JCCC, told RIA Novosti.

According to specialists, the yellow tint of the hull of HIMARS missiles and the notch in the shape of a diamond located on the interior of the warhead are the distinguishing characteristics of these weapons.

Sitting Ducks

Earlier on December 13, Vladimir Rogov, the leader of the “We are with Russia” campaign, said that the Russian Armed Forces had destroyed a record number of Ukrainian MLRS in the Zaporizhia region. Over the past few days, the Russian Armed Forces have been responsible for destroying nearly a dozen multiple-launch rocket systems, including HIMARS, MLRS, and MARS-II, in addition to radar facilities.

Igor Konashenkov, an official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, reported on December 7 that an attack on a warehouse of a metallurgical plant in Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk region, destroyed approximately seventy HIMARS missiles and two MLRS. According to Konashenkov, four additional MLRS locations sustained significant damage. Russia has so far not been able to show the proof of HIMARS launchers destroyed during the war.

Normal Targets

On December 2, Frontier India reported that the destruction of HIMARS had become routine for the Russian forces. According to RIA Novosti, the Russian air defence forces have been given new software that makes it simple to intercept HIMARS MLRS missiles.

A Russian commander pointed out that, at first, they did not grasp what it was, but at this point in time, they are now freely working on HIMARS. The troops requested a new programme, so HIMARS are now treated like any other target. “We see freely, observe and destroy without problems,” he said.

Russians have been using the Buk-M3 air defence system to identify and destroy HIMARS missiles

An operator of the Buk-M3 anti-aircraft missile system, who goes by the call sign Tolyan, told the Russian newspaper that one calculation could maintain sight of up to 12 different targets simultaneously at any given time. The launch of one Buk-M3 missile can take out one HIMARS installation.

“You can shoot down in batches. In principle, if there are three missiles [from HIMARS], you can shoot down with one of our missiles,” explains Tolyan.

The Buk-M3 air defence system can hit targets at an altitude of 10 kilometres and a distance of 40. 

Outranged by Russians

On December 17, it was reported that the Russians had shifted their approach regarding the weapons supplied by the West and are being used to equip the Ukrainian military. According to the top military commander of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, who spoke with The Economist, Russia has adapted to HIMARS and moved to a distance that is outside the range of fire.

Modified on sly

It was alleged on December 5 by the Wall Street Journal, citing sources within the United States, that the Pentagon had secretly modified the advanced missile launchers that it had provided to Ukraine to prevent them from striking Russia and intensifying the conflict. The United States has provided Ukraine with twenty of them since June.

In addition to the HIMARS, the United States has supplied Ukraine with a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) range of fifty miles which is currently being used to launch attacks against Russian munitions stockpiles and command centres in Ukraine.

Additionally, the United States has refrained from deploying Army Tactical Missile System (ATMS) rockets capable of striking targets up to 186 miles away. Officials shared concerns about the potential for Ukraine to attack targets in Russia.

Kyiv has sought ATMS rockets for months, emphasising that the missile system would only be used to hit Russian targets in Ukraine.

Washington has repeatedly refuted that the Russians have managed to destroyed HIMARS Launchers.


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