A former U.S. Army officer explains HIMARS and details what could be the first video of the system at war in Ukraine: The artillery duel in Ukraine is heating up as a top American multiple launch rocket system has already made an appearance on the battlefield to blast Russian positions. The first HIMARS – High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems – were delivered to Ukraine this week, with four more on the way according to an additional announcement June 23.
HIMARS Can Turn the Tide
Social media video shows how HIMARS rockets are punishing the invaders. The Donbas region has seen fierce artillery bombardments from both sides during the war. Now, Kyiv hopes to use the HIMARS to mitigate Moscow’s own artillery tactics and make Vladimir Putin’s forces pay for their transgressions.
It Is Already Sending Rockets Down Range
HIMARS rockets dealt a recent blow to Russia’s troops. Check out the video here of a night-time fire mission that shows the multiple launch rockets leaping out of their tubes in a blazing crescendo.
Night Mission Captured on Video
Analyst Rob Lee from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a think tank based in Philadelphia, posted on Twitter in the early hours of June 24 the following statement. “Reportedly the first footage of American HIMARS MLRS being used by Ukraine in combat.”
Let Her Rip
If confirmed, this is a “rocket” fast deployment of a complex weapon that was a major piece of an arms shipment from the United States. This delivery was part of $700 million bundle announced May 31 of military aid that included the HIMARS in hopes that Ukraine would have more accurate artillery fires. The United States does not want the tactical missiles to fall into Russian territory, but otherwise the Pentagon is happy to supply such lethal rockets that can harass and interdict the Kremlin’s soldiers.
Bring the Steel
HIMARS can fire munitions from 50 miles away. You can see below how valuable the weapon will be in Donbas as the Ukrainians have repeatedly called for long-range artillery.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 24, 2022
Keep Russia on Its Heels
Colin H. Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, told journalists covering the Pentagon, “These are precision guided systems with extended range. For high value targets that allows them to keep some of the pressure off of Ukrainian forces on the front, [which] we think these systems will be very useful.”
HIMARS, transported by a five-ton truck, is difficult for the enemy to track and pin down. It can launch in minutes after stopping, complete its fire mission, and then move to the next location to quickly repeat the process.
Features of HIMARS
This is a 24-7 all weather system. The launch pod fires six 227mm GPS guided-rockets. The three-soldier crew can change launch pods rapidly. Ukraine will likely use HIMARS to eliminate enemy artillery in counter-battery fire. The idea is to first stay out of range from Russian artillery. The invaders currently have an advantage in long-range fires, and it will be up to the HIMARS to even the score. The system can also be utilized to support troop movement in dangerous close situations when the enemy is threatening friendly positions. Fire missions can also jeopardize Russian ammunition and fuel depots to make it more difficult to replenish troops in Donbas.
The Ukrainians have shown they can be trained quickly on complex systems. It is telling that they may have already activated the system. This is a significant development in Ukraine’s artillery capabilities. Counter-battery fire, close air support, and eliminating logistics sites will endear the HIMARS to Ukrainian forces. More of these multiple-launch systems would be a welcome addition.
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.