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Russia tests missiles capable of carrying tactical nuclear warheads against Ukraine. Serhiy Zgurets column

28 March, 2024 Thursday
11:55

Russian efforts involve designing a Zircon missile outfitted with a specialized warhead, specifically a tactical nuclear device. This indicates Russian developers are aiming to conduct real combat tests of the missile

Russia targets Kharkiv with new aerial bombs

Yesterday marked the first air attack on Kharkiv by the Russian occupying army since 2022, utilizing aerial bombs. These bombs, designated as "UMPB D-30SN," represent a new type of munition. Unlike before, when they had to enter airspace and potentially face our air defense systems, these bombs now possess certain advantages. Notably, a rocket engine has been incorporated into the conventional FAB-250 aerial bomb, extending its operational range to 90 km. Consequently, we must devise strategies to counter this new munition, with a primary focus on neutralizing the carriers of these bombs. Potential measures may involve deploying F-16 aircraft and the Patriot air defense system.

Russians are conducting tests of missiles capable of carrying a nuclear payload aimed at Ukraine

Recent revelations about the Zircon missile have shed light on its characteristics. This missile, touted by the enemy as hypersonic, boasts a speed of 9 Mach. Ukrainian experts have examined debris from the Zircon missile, revealing new insights into its warhead. It has emerged that the warhead is significantly smaller in proportion to the missile itself. For context, the Kh-22 cruise missile features a warhead exceeding 1,000 kg, the Kh-101 weighs 400 kg, and the Kinzhal missile carries a 150 kg warhead. In contrast, the Zircon missile’s warhead weighs over 100 kg. One explanation for this relatively low warhead weight is to extend the missile's range beyond 1,000 km, requiring designers to reduce its mass. Another interpretation suggests that a warhead of this size may not effectively engage the intended targets. Consequently, Russian developers are reportedly working on a specialized warhead, potentially a tactical nuclear munition. This underscores the current efforts to test the missile under real combat conditions. It's crucial to emphasize that Zircon missiles represent primarily a threat of terrorist attacks against Ukraine.

Ukraine is ramping up its domestic weapons production

Kateryna Mykhalko, the executive director of Tech Force in UA public organization, stated that over 30 enterprises are currently part of their association. These enterprises are major suppliers to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, specializing in the production of drones, software, communication equipment, optical systems, and ammunition for the Armed Forces.

Mykhalko highlighted the lack of order predictability and procurement uncertainty in the Ukrainian market. Procurement by the Ministry of Defense is dependent on annual budget allocations, a responsibility shared by both the government and parliament. She stressed the importance of establishing comprehensive military budgets spanning several years to ensure sufficient weapons production for the Armed Forces. While there has been an uptick in production for military needs, defense industry enterprises still face funding shortages.

Ukrainian-made weapons export

Kateryna Mykhalko advocates for Ukraine to permit the export of domestically produced weapons. She argues that this move wouldn't diminish production for the Armed Forces but would instead increase it. Exporting arms brings in new investments and boosts cash flow. Mykhalko highlights that Ukraine still receives some weapon samples from partners, as it takes years to localize production, such as air defense systems. However, Ukraine has made significant strides in producing various types of UAVs, some of which are surplus to front-line needs and can be exported.

Mykhalko also points out that Ukrainian arms manufacturers often earn praise from American and European counterparts. They receive rapid feedback from the military and adjust weapons accordingly to suit combat conditions. According to Mikhalko, there are several instances of partnerships between Ukrainian and foreign companies.

Currently, Ukrainian manufacturers operate under challenging circumstances, as each defense industry enterprise is a target for occupiers. Therefore, a crucial issue is relocating military equipment facilities underground. Mykhalko emphasizes the need to protect all enterprises from attacks by the Russian Federation. While it poses a significant challenge, progress is being made through collaboration with the state.

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