Espreso. Global

Why does Ukraine need long-range ATACMS so much?

22 September, 2023 Friday

After Ukraine was once again denied the supply of these missiles, strange thoughts began to arise, such as, are they required at all? The UK and France handed over long-range Storm Shadow and Scalp EGs, and that’s good – we're doing fine!

The idea, of course, is interesting, especially thickly laced with obsessive-compulsive "stop humiliating yourself in front of Biden!", but absolutely useless.

Ukraine really requires ATACMS and I will try to explain why. And I would like the Oval Office to understand why Ukraine requires them so much.

Ukraine currently has two types of long-range missiles in service – Storm Shadow and Scalp EG. There are also some missiles of Ukrainian production, but nothing is known about them, and I don't think there are as many of them as SS/Scalp EG.

Storm Shadow and Scalp EG are subsonic cruise missiles, and they are perfectly capable of accomplishing their missions, especially considering the extreme difficulty of intercepting these missiles by Russian air defense systems. But they have two very unpleasant nuances.

The first nuance is related to the carrier, which is the Su-24 front-line bomber. First of all, we have a limited number of them. The Su-24s themselves are tied to airfields that are not only occasionally struck by the occupying Russian forces, but also monitored.

Therefore, when the Su-24 takes off, the Russian troops already know about it. It is very difficult to carry out an attack as stealthy as possible, when you are tied to a carrier, and the carrier is tied to a location, even if not one.

But, the second nuance is even more unpleasant – the limited number of missiles.

As good as the Storm Shadow and Scalp EG are, their numbers are small. And the UK and France have a limited stockpile of these missiles, and their production is not fast enough to produce the unlimited strike capability required by Ukraine’s army in a day.

Now on to ATACMS...

First of all, there are more ATACMS in US stockpiles than Storm Shadow and Scalp EG in the UK and France combined. But the most important thing is that this missile allows Ukraine to significantly expand the range of launch locations and increase the suddenness of strikes.

Because ATACMS are employed by M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRSs, there will be no permanent fixation on deployment location and no ability to track the direction of the threat. There are dozens of M142s and M270s along the entire battle line that will be able to employ ATACMS at any time.

Thus, Ukraine will be able to significantly diversify the geography of use of long-range missiles and significantly increase its ability for the army to successfully advance and liberate the occupied territories. By combining ATACMS with other missiles, we will achieve maximum efficiency.

Unfortunately, the absence of ATACMS is a limitation of the Ukrainian army in operations to create conditions for a successful offensive, and the insistent refusal to hand over these missiles is more sabotage of such operations than anything else.

If the US really wishes Ukraine’s victory, then transfer ATACMS!


About the author: Oleksandr Kovalenko, Ukrainian journalist. 

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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