The Ukrainian military finally has a weapon that can reach far and deep into the Russian lines.
After waiting several months, Ukraine finally has an unspecified number of MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) in its arsenal. These missiles can destroy logistical nodes, as well as strike at concentrated forces and weapon systems.
The Ukrainian military’s first use of ATACMS was a trademark deep-strike operation.
Ukraine on the ATACMS
Early Tuesday morning, the Ukrainian military put some of those ATACMS munitions to use, targeting two Russian tactical airfields in Berdyansk and Luhansk. The Ukrainian attack, codenamed Operation Dragonfly, destroyed nine Russian attack and transport helicopters, one air defense system, specialized vehicles, and ammunition depots, and it damaged the airstrips.
Between 60 and 70 miles from the frontlines, the airfields housed assault and transport helicopters that have been supporting Russian ground operations. Until yesterday, these airfields were out of the range of mostUkrainian weapons. Only the Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG cruise missiles could reach them, but Kyiv is preserving its limited supply of these munitions for use against high-value targets.
The attacks caught the Russians by surprise. ATACMS were not announced in any of the military aid packages the U.S. has sent Kyiv. The White House later acknowledged the delivery of the long-range munitions.
The U.S. “recently provided Ukraine with a type of ATACMS capable of ranging out to 165 km. We believe this will provide a significant boost to Ukraine’s battlefield capabilities without risking our military readiness,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told the Polish Press Agency on Tuesday.
The version of the ATACMS the U.S. military sent to Ukraine can reach targets up to 103 miles, putting much of the Russian military’s resources and facilities in occupied Ukraine within range. This is a real blow for the Kremlin. Russian forces are going to suffer over the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, on the ground, the Kremlin continues to suffer extremely heavy losses.
On the 602nd day of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces lost more than 600 men killed, wounded, and captured, as well as approximately 50 heavy weapons systems and support vehicles.
After a week of extremely heavy losses, the Russian casualty rate has started going down again. But this week, the Russian forces lost approximately 7,000 men, 291 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 237 artillery pieces and multiple launch rocket systems, 178 tactical and support vehicles, and 152 main battle tanks.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 290,050 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 324 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 323 attack and transport helicopters; 4,981 tanks; 6,944 artillery pieces; 9,420 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 814 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters; 9,303 vehicles and fuel tanks; 547 anti-aircraft batteries; 5,291 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 982 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 1,534 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.