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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

5 US Military Weapons Ukraine Would Love to Fight Russia

M1 Abrams Tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
M1 Abrams Tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Ukraine’s 5 Dream Weapons It Could Use to Fight Russia – The Ukrainian military would like better arms systems to fight its enemies. That makes it like any armed force around the world, but Ukraine’s need is acute. Kyiv wants weapons that could help its defenders repel the Russian hordes and win the conflict as soon as possible. Not every system on its wish list makes sense. Cost rules some weapons out, as do training requirements, the need for spare parts, and essential maintenance necessities. But looking at the military hardware the Ukrainians would most like to receive from the United States and NATO tells us a lot about the nature of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The F-16: A Welcome Addition

F-16 fighters top the list. The Ukrainians are flying outdated, Soviet-era airplanes. They would dearly like to fly something more advanced, and the F-16 Fighting Falcon is a warplane known and loved around the world. It is also on the old side: It started production in 1974. That means certain countries could cut it loose to help the Ukrainian Air Force. Some 4,500 F-16s have been built, and 1,245 are still in service in active and reserve units of the U.S. Air Force. 

Russia Invades

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon receives fuel from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker, deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, above the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Dec. 2, 2021. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft that delivers war- winning airpower to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hernandez)

F-16 Missile Test

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – A pair of F-16C Fighting Falcons assigned to the 79th Fighter Squadron participate in the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group’s Weapons System Evaluation Program East 22.02, hosted at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 16, 2021. WSEP tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology to enhance readiness for real-world operations.

The F-16 has proven itself in combat as a multi-role air dominance fighter. This all-weather, day-and-night fighter could take out enemy planes across Ukraine, but the F-16 is also adept at destroying ground targets in close air support.

A-10: Laying Waste to Russia’s Armor

Next on the list is the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which is better known by its nickname: the Warthog. This is a tank plinker extraordinaire. The Warthog was built especially to attack Soviet-made armor in a potential war against the USSR. The A-10 proved itself by knocking out numerous Iraqi tanks in Operation Desert Storm. Its surprised pilots received a hero’s welcome from media outlets after a short encounter with the Iraqis. Ukrainians manning the A-10 would devour Russia’s long armored vehicle columns.

A-10 Warthog

Image: Creative Commons.


Image: Creative Commons.

A-10 Warthog

An A-10 Thunderbolt II prepares to take off from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq to provide close air support to ground troops in Iraq. The 438th Air Expeditionary Group A-10 jets perform 10 sorties daily–900 in this last four months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr.)

M1 Abrams: The Difference Maker

The Abrams needs no introduction – Ukraine would love them. Its 120mm smoothbore gun is top-notch. It can reach a maximum speed of 42 miles per hour on roads. The Ukrainians are always looking for more ground attack capabilities. Why not supply them with M1 Abrams tanks? The United States has numerous Abrams in storage in Europe. Perhaps these could be dusted off, primed, and sent to Ukraine. This hunter-killer system would give Ukrainian tankers even greater confidence against Russian armor.

M1 Abrams

An M1A1 Abrams Tank fires off a round as a demonstration during 1st Tank Battalion’s Jane Wayne Spouse Appreciation Day aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., April 3, 2018. The purpose of the event is to build resiliency in spiritual well being, the will to fight and a strong home life for the 1st Tanks Marines and their families. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Rachel K. Porter)

U.S. Military

3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division sends the first round downrange with the U.S. Army’s new M1A2 SEPV3 Abrams Main Battle Tank, Fort Hood, Texas, August 18, 2020. After the GREYWOLF brigade conducts a test fire on every tank they will dial in their sites by “zeroing” the tanks main gun, ensuring they are fully prepared to conduct future gunnery live fire exercises.

Invasion of Ukraine

Image: Creative Commons.

The Paladin: Self-Propelled Artillery

A self-propelled howitzer would pair well with Abrams tanks. Look no further than the Paladin M109. This system is the king of the battle. It has a huge 155mm gun. A well-trained, experienced crew on the move can stop and shoot in 60 seconds, then scoot the Paladin to a new location. Throw in an Excalibur guided projectile, and you have a force on the battlefield.

M-109A6 Paladin Self Propelled Howitzer

Col. David Mansfield, 407th Air Expeditionary Group commander fires an illumination round from a M-109A6 Paladin Self Propelled Howitzer here June 20 in support of Iraqi Police patrolling Nasiriyah, Iraq. The Soldiers of the 3-319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, regularly support Iraqi Police with illumination to help them secure the city. Colonel Mansfield was given a tour, a system capability brief and the opportunity to fire, under close Soldier supervision, so that he can better inform Airmen about the “outgoing fire” missions and thunderous explosions heard almost nightly here.

Patriot: The Adept Defender

The Ukrainians are doing an excellent job defending their airspace against Russian aircraft. S-300 surface-to-air missile systems and Stinger MANPADs have given the Russians fits. But the Ukrainians would love to have the American Patriot system on layaway. The Patriot can not only take out enemy airplanes, but it can also shoot down conventional missiles and cruise missiles. The system fires the highly capable Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) interceptor. The missile has a range of 43 miles, and it can destroy targets flying at more than 14 miles of altitude. The minimum flight time is less than nine seconds, while the maximum is 3.5 minutes. The Patriot would bring doom to Russia’s air and rocket forces.

Patriot Missile

Patriot Missile. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Patriot Missile

Image: Creative Commons.

This is a dream sheet for the Ukrainians, but the United States and NATO are being careful about which arms systems go to the defenders, and it might not be possible to supply this kind of hardware. Training new users on the systems is prohibitive. It takes months, for example, to train pilots on the F-16. Other systems are too valuable to share. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy can keep trying for new arms systems. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.