Espreso. Global
Review

Changing approaches to EW system development over year. Serhiy Zgurets’ column

26 April, 2024 Friday
11:42

We will talk about the first long-range ATACMS missiles delivered to Ukraine, which were delivered secretly, and the battle of technologies, including the development of electronic warfare systems and their capabilities on the battlefield

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Secretly delivered ATACMS missiles

It turns out that the United States has secretly supplied ATACMS missiles to Ukraine, as the media have already reported and foreign and Ukrainian experts have commented. We are talking about ATACMS of the M57 modification, which have a range of 300 kilometers. Ukraine has already begun using these long-range weapons against Russian troops, and these weapons were transferred in the previous US aid package, US President Joe Biden approved the transfer back in March, a package worth $300 million was prepared, and the transfer of these long-range ATACMS took place in April.

Ukraine utilized these missiles in multiple engagements. On April 17, for instance, strikes were conducted on the air base in Dzhankoi, resulting in the destruction of Russian S-400 systems. Additionally, attacks were launched on Russian troops in the port city of Berdiansk. The New York Times reports that over 100 of these long-range missiles have been supplied to us. This contrasts with previous transfers of ATACMS missiles with a range of 160 kilometers, where only 20 munitions were provided. The US initially hesitated to transfer ATACMS M57 due to concerns about the combat readiness of the US army, but with the introduction of Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) missiles with a range exceeding 400 km, previous versions with a range of 300 km became available for transfer to partners like Ukraine.

What was the reason, and what was the impetus for the transfer of long-range systems? Now we have a number of statements by United States officials, including Jake Sullivan, who said that the decision was influenced in one way or another by the use of North Korean missiles on the territory of Ukraine. These missiles, as we know, were transferred by North Korea to Russia, which used them to strike Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine. Another reason was that Russia carried out massive attacks on critical infrastructure. Although, according to Americans, the United States warned the Russians not to do this, and this was a certain response to support our country's potential to increase long-range strike capabilities. When asked whether Ukraine could launch ATACMS strikes with a range of 300 kilometers on the territory of Russia, Sullivan explained that it could not. But we understand that the range of 300 km significantly enhances our capability to target locations in Russia and the temporarily occupied Crimea, as well as along the entire section of the contact line.

This presents a significant advantage for the Ukrainian army, as the ATACMS will become, in our view, the longest-range arm in the Ukrainian arsenal. It enables us to target storage facilities and airfields, placing considerable pressure on the enemy. Both the Americans and we recognize that if such transfers had occurred earlier, the impact on the front line would have been far more significant. Over time, Russia has adapted to the use of ATACMS, concentrating their ammunition to mitigate the threat posed by these systems.

New aid package from the United States

ATACMS with a range of 300 km is also included in the new US aid package announced on April 24. The $1 billion package is extremely interesting because it includes missile weapons for the air defense system and a significant amount of armored vehicles. The package itself did not specify what quantities would be transferred to Ukraine, but just yesterday other sources said that the US side would give us about 1,000 HMMWVs, 14 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and 500 MRAP MaxxPro armored vehicles, which are desperately needed by our units on the front line. In fact, these volumes of military aid will now significantly increase the mobility of our brigades, which have been waiting for American military assistance.

Development of electronic warfare assets in Ukraine

The dynamics of the war with Russia is that electronic warfare means are used by both sides to fight cruise missiles, munitions, drones, and to use electronic warfare devices to influence the communication system. Therefore, the use of electronic warfare is becoming an absolute prerequisite for effective combat operations on the ground. Now both sides are trying to develop this area as much as possible.

The Brave1 cluster is an organizational structure created by the decision of all security and defense agencies to provide technological solutions for security and defense forces, to accelerate the equipping of our military solutions needed on the battlefield, and electronic warfare equipment is becoming an important factor in strengthening the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Oleh Donets, Head of Cooperation and Partnership with Security and Defense Forces at Brave1, Head of Electronic Warfare/EWS at defense-tech, emphasized that Ukraine is currently engaged in a technological war, and its important feature is the rapid dynamics of changes on the battlefield. In particular, last year, when Brave1 was launched, electronic warfare was key as an element of countering kamikaze drones and reconnaissance drones.

"The dynamics will be constantly increasing, there will be constant changes in control systems, information transmission systems, unmanned systems and control systems. This will require corresponding dynamic changes in electronic warfare. In general, we see that the dynamics will only intensify and the key task is to be ready for rapid changes, quickly scale these solutions and quickly deliver them to the front," the expert explained.

Brave1 has more than 50 developers and manufacturers, and the platform has more than 100 developments, nine of which have already been codified and received NATO-compliant code, so they can be purchased by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Each development included in the cluster undergoes a defense assessment by military personnel from various units and structures, who determine its priority. Then joint tests are organized with the specialized structures of the Armed Forces, and then documentation is prepared, submitted to the commission and codified.

Donets noted that most of the inventions relate to devices with limited effect, as they are needed in much larger quantities: "This threat is quite new, and these devices have emerged as a new class of electronic warfare means during this active phase of the war. Thanks to systematic work, a new class of means has emerged as short-range means, so these developers, who constantly hear from their friends, relatives, and acquaintances how great the threat from UAVs is at the front, are beginning to focus their efforts and resources on developing these means. Similarly, the high dynamics of changes in UAV characteristics requires high dynamics of manufacturers, so in general we see that the largest number of teams are concentrated in this area."

The head of the electronic warfare department explained that for a very long time little or no attention was paid to technological development. According to him, today there is a high demand for the development of this industry and an increase in the number of manufacturers: "The market is developing, and we will continue to make efforts to increase the capacity of this market, to increase the dynamics and speed of growth, to scale these products, and most importantly, to increase the number of these products at the front where they are needed in the first place and for what they are intended."

Donets emphasized that Brave1 engages developers of different levels to share their experience.

"Today, in general, all manufacturers are quite open, because they understand that this threat unites everyone, in general, most manufacturers are quite open to the exchange of information, to the exchange of their experience, they are happy to cooperate, share their best practices to make the market move faster. Because it is by joining forces that we can now achieve that the whole market will move, and we, as a country, will only benefit from this, because the need for these means is quite high," Donets said.

The head of defense-tech at Brave1 added: "We see that the dynamics and ways of using electronic warfare equipment are also constantly changing, so in general, we are actively working to build capacity to organize the management and synchronization of these means, as they become more numerous in the troops, this primarily imposes organizational restrictions and imposes the need to increase the capacity of these organizational structures that are responsible for the work and ensuring the effective operation of these means in the Armed Forces."

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