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HIMARS Are Doing Serious Damage to Russia’s Military in Ukraine

M142 HIMARS
M142 HIMARS. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Known as HIMARS, the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is a highly mobile rocket launch system – essentially, a rocket pod attached to an M1140 Army truck. Capable of firing either 227mm GMLRS rockets, or 610mm ATACMS missiles, the HIMARS system is an affordable way to bolster an army’s firepower. While developed by the United States and deployed mainly in the Middle East, the HIMARS is currently making a name for itself in the Russo-Ukraine War. The Ukrainians, who received upwards of sixteen HIMARS systems from the Americans, have used the weapon to successfully destroy Russian targets. And now, the Ukrainians are building decoy HIMARS to absorb Russian attention and artillery. 

HIMARS Fakes

“Ukraine has fielded a fleet of fake High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, to trick Russia into firing its precious long-range missiles at worthless decoys,” Dan Parson wrote for The Drive. “Those decoys draw Russian attention and fire away from the 16 HIMARS systems currently on the frontlines in Ukraine.”

According to the Washington Post, the wooden HIMARS decoys have attracted as many as 10 Russian Kalibr missiles. As the Russians generally rely on unmanned systems to find and identify targets for their artillery, the wooden HIMARS have been particularly effective. “A decent decoy, situated and camouflaged as an actual HIMARS would be deployed, is almost indistinguishable from the real thing to Russian targeting drones and satellites that provide information to Russian warships carrying cruise missiles in the Black Sea,” Parson wrote. “The Ukrainian decoys are made out of wood but can be indistinguishable from an artillery battery through the lens of Russian drones, which transmit their locations to naval cruise-missile carriers in the Black Sea. 

The Russians are eager to strike HIMARS systems because the HIMARS system has been so effective at destroying Russian targets. To the Russians, the HIMARS is “like a VIP target,” a Ukrainian official told the Washington Post. The Ukrainian use of decoys is an example of the asymmetrical tactics the outgunned, outmanned military relies on to survive against the larger, stronger Russian force. In addition to the decoy HIMARS, “in recent weeks, Kyiv’s operatives have blown up rail and electricity lines in occupied Russian territory, detonated explosives inside Russian arms depots and assassinated suspected collaborators,” the Washington Post reported. But Ukraine is still highly dependent on Western-supplied conventional weapons like the HIMARS.

HIMARS

Marines with Romeo Battery, 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, fire rockets from a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) on Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Afghanistan, June 1, 2013. Marines with 5/11 are deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony L. Ortiz / Released)

“The lengths to which Ukraine has gone to protect Western-supplied rocket systems underscore their importance on the battlefield,” the Washington Post reported. “The systems are credited with blunting Russia’s advance in the east and south by giving Ukraine the ability to strike from 50 miles away, laying waste to hundreds of high-value Russian targets, including supply lines,  arms depots and logistic and support hubs.”   

Russia themselves have used decoy and deception tactics – they even have a word for such techniques: “maskirovka.” Russia, for its part, has used inflatable decoys of S-300 SAM missile batteries. The most famous example of maskirovka comes from World War II when US war planners created an entire “ghost army,” complete with fake tanks, trucks, and airplanes in an attempt to fool Nazi Germany. 

HIMARS

HIMARS. Image Credit: Twitter Video Screenshot.

In Ukraine, Russia is claiming to have destroyed 44 Ukrainian HIMARS. The claims are likely hyperbolic propaganda, however, as the US has only confirmed the shipment of 16 HIMARS systems. For Ukraine, protecting their existing HIMARS systems will be vital in the effort to keep Russia at bay.

Harrison Kass is the Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Froike

    September 5, 2022 at 11:54 am

    They need a few dozen more!

  2. getrecked

    September 5, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    LOL, yeah, ok.

  3. from Russia with love

    September 5, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    When do authors of articles make links do they click on those links? read what is written there? or are they as stupid as Ukrainian patriots?😂
    “In Ukraine, Russia is claiming to have destroyed 44 Ukrainian HIMARS.”
    The link leads to an article with the title:
    “Fact Check: Did Russia Claim it Destroyed 44 HIMARS Launchers in Ukraine?”
    where it is written:
    “In a press briefing, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “In the areas of the city of Kherson, Novaya Kakhovka, Kherson region, Antonovsky bridge and Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station, three Ukrainian Tochka-U ballistic missiles were intercepted in the air, as well as 53 projectiles of multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). Including: 44 – HIMARS, five ‘Alder’ and four ‘Hurricane’.””
    the same Newsweek article provides links to channels that published nonsense about 44 destroyed HIMARS. This was first published by a channel on Twitter, naturally, which has nothing to do with the RF Ministry of Defense, then the Ukrainian department of the BBC and the NEXTA information dump. now the author of this article has published it.🤣 fourfold screwup!😂👍 and you are still going to accuse Russia of spreading fakes???😲
    special respect to “Newsweek”. I thought that in the USA all the media are information dumps, but it turns out that someone else is able to verify the information.😎👍

  4. TheDon

    September 5, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    Some comments are in conflict with the damage being Ukranian or Russian disinformation.
    No press seems to be on the ground.
    Pictures of missiles stuck in the ground seem out of the normal for high speed missiles with explosives.
    With the Russians still in Donbas, it is either the great work of the Ukranian forces or a strategy to weaken the Ukranian numbers.
    1945 bounces between “Putin must be mad now” and UKrainian forces Himars helpping.
    This war is not in Russias interest, but support for the Ukrainians, negotiations with ending this conflict, both require accurate accounting, not short stories.

  5. Jacksonian Libertarian

    September 5, 2022 at 1:37 pm

    16 HIMARS with 6 rounds each + 8 M270 with 12 rounds each, means the combat power is double what is mentioned.

    Combat Power rule of thumb: 1 smart weapon = 500 dumb weapons

    The “mature precision strike regime” is here to stay, adapt or die.

  6. Gary Jacobs

    September 5, 2022 at 9:07 pm

    From Russia with Hate – as Usual you are missing the forest for the trees. Regardless if the media mixed up the nuance of missiles vs. actual systems, the point remains that HIMARS is devastating Russian ammo depots and GLOCS. As well, considering how much utter rubbish Putin and his boot lickers like you put out on the daily… giving these lot one do over on this type of mix up is a drop in the bucket.
    If the Ukrainians roll up the Russians in Kherson in the next 3-5 weeks as expected, I will be quite fascinated to see you twisted excuses at that point. I am stocking up on popcorn for it.

  7. from Russia with love

    September 6, 2022 at 9:15 am

    @naive Gary Jacobs
    Your statements raise a number of questions.
    if HIMARs are destroying Russian ammunition depots, then why does this not affect the intensity of Russian artillery fire in any way? Are these really ammunition depots? or is it a fertilizer warehouse in Kakhovka and a prison in Donetsk? then it’s clear why the Russian artillery has no supply problems …
    I want to tell you two news! one good one (for you) and one bad one.
    1) good for you. the administration of the Kherson region decided that now it will not restore the Avdeevsky bridge and the bridge at the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station. traffic on these bridges is closed.
    2) bad for you. this had no effect on the supply of Russian troops. this situation was predicted and the supply goes through panton crossings. ferry crossings are organized for civilians.
    let’s sum up. two months of shelling. hundreds of high-precision missiles. a war crime was committed, 15 civilians from the repair brigade were killed. millions of dollars went down the drain to achieve… to achieve nothing. 🤣 even the bridges could not be destroyed, only damaged.

    I hope that nothing will happen to you in these 3-5 weeks either.😉 I would also be curious to read your excuses.😎

  8. Gary Jacobs

    September 6, 2022 at 9:48 am

    From Russia with Hate – Hahaha… All one has to do is check with NASA FIRMS satellite images to know just how absurd your comment is. From the date HIMARS started launching to now…In some places the rate of fire is down by half. In some its a bit more, some a bit less than half.

    You are the guy who doesnt understand what geolocated footage means… but in the real world, there are so many Russian ammo depots exploding in Russian occupied Ukraine… not to mention Belgorod and a couple other places in Russia… it would be impossible for the rate of fire to not decrease.

    My guess is that you think NASA is some kind of anti Russia conspiracy and will make up some BS to convince yourself that empirical data isnt true… but hey, that does make you good for a few laughs.

    I could go on picking apart everything you say that’s how phony you are… but for now I digress… duty calls elsewhere.

  9. "From russia"s family died in a drone strike

    September 6, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    From russia with ineptitude, you’re a complete idiot. Did you really wish to convey that Ukraine struck that prison with HIMARS? You know, the one in the pictures showing blast and fire from within? Do you also wish to convey your retarded idea that your artillary strikes on Zaporizhzia, shown to come from occupied south, actually changes direction-in flight-and actually came from Ukraine, like that moron russian escort said live on camera?

    Do you know how the west knows russia filth are lying? Your lips are moving. If it weren’t such a waste for the vise, we’d put more russian heads in them.

  10. from Russia with love

    September 7, 2022 at 11:28 am

    @naive Gary Jacobs
    blah blah blah 🤣
    where are these “mass pictures”? what warehouses? where? How many? one? four? do you know what facts are? Here’s an example for you – the day before yesterday a large fuel depot blew up near Krivoy Rog. Of course, this is not the merit of HIMARS, Russian high-precision missiles did it, but the results are recorded in both Russian and Ukrainian sources. these are facts, not snot about some “warehouse” and some pictures that you cannot show.
    Are you saying that the intensity of the fire has decreased? in the direction of Kherson? something doesn’t look like it. hospitals in Krivoy Rog, Odessa and Nikolaev are overflowing with wounded Ukrainian soldiers. the Ukrainian attack on Kherson was drowned in blood and 2 months of attempts to destroy the bridge yielded nothing.
    let’s see what will happen in the Kharkov direction. while the Ukrainian troops managed to wedge into the Russian defenses, but the ambulances that carry the wounded to Kharkov say that it cost a lot of blood. and here, too, artillery does not reduce the rate of fire. it looks like your stories about destroyed warehouses are complete bullshit🤣

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