Home » How HIMARS and other advanced missile systems are tilting the “firefight” in favor of Ukraine | World news
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How HIMARS and other advanced missile systems are tilting the “firefight” in favor of Ukraine | World news

Artillery strikes will play a crucial role in Russia’s war in Ukraine, which top American leaders have called a “firefight.”

The Russian military initially had a significant advantage over the Ukrainian armed forces due to a much larger arsenal of artillery systems.

This meant that they were able to destroy Ukrainian positions in the east while staying out of range of Ukrainian weapons.

The United Kingdom, the United States and, belatedly, Germany have worked to tilt the balance of firepower on the battlefield in Ukraine’s favor by giving their allies artillery systems that not only have greater range than the Russians, but also greater accuracy.

This includes arming Ukrainian forces with multiple launch rocket systems, or MLRS.

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What is MLRS and which version does the UK use?

MLRS stands for “Multiple-Launch Rocket System” – a mobile rocket artillery system that fires multiple surface-to-surface missiles.

The British Army’s Royal Artillery uses the M270 rocket system.

Operated by a three-man crew (driver, gunner and section commander), the weapon is a highly mobile automatic system capable of launching 12 surface-to-ground precision-guided missiles in less than a minute. They can be shot individually or in pairs up to 12.

The M31 Guided Rocket System (GMLRS) munition, which has a 200-pound high-explosive warhead, can hit a target more than 50 miles away—twice the range of other artillery systems in use by the Army.

A program is underway to further expand the scope.

The fire control computer ensures that accuracy is maintained by redirecting the launcher between rounds.

The M270 MLRS was developed under a US-led program that saw the first systems enter service in the 1980s.

The UK first used its MLRS during the First Gulf War

Image: Sky News is the first to be given permission to film a multiple launch missile system given to Ukraine by the UK

What has the UK given Ukraine to bolster its firepower?

The UK has provided Ukraine with a total of six MLRS, as well as M31A1 precision-guided missiles.

The first triple installment was announced in June 2022, with Defense Secretary Ben Wallace saying the system would “help the country defend itself against Russian aggression”.

Two months later, a new commitment was made to double the UK’s contribution.

Image: Missiles are fired at Russian troops

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Why does Ukraine want MLRS?

The UK’s MLRS and a similar artillery system provided to Ukraine by the US, called the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), have greater range, much better accuracy and a faster rate of fire compared to the Soviet-built Smerch, Uragan and Tornado. multiple missile launchers used by both Russia and Ukraine.

Germany has given the Ukrainians their own version – both MARS II launchers and hundreds of missiles.

This means that Ukrainian forces are able to hit Russian positions – including armored vehicles, military bases, command posts and ammunition depots – with precision, reducing the risk of being hit by Russian return fire.

The Russian military is forced to use many rounds against the target to compensate for the inaccuracy of their weapons.

The UK’s M31A1 missiles are designed to defend against Russian heavy artillery, and the MLRS’ range of more than 50 miles allows Ukraine to strike beyond Russian lines while keeping most Russian artillery systems out of range.

Western leaders have so far refrained from supplying Ukraine with even longer-range missile launchers that can reach targets up to 186 miles away, allowing the military to hit areas deep inside Russian territory.

Does Russia have MLRS?

Russia has its own multiple rocket system: the 9K58 Smerch 300 mm MLRS. It fires a 300mm 9M55K rocket and has a range of 12 to 43 miles.

The Smerch was developed in the early 1980s and entered service with the Russian Army in 1988.

It is also used by the militaries of India, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Ukraine, and was exported to Kuwait and Algeria.

What is the difference between MLRS and HIMARS?

HIMARS can fire the same type of munitions as MLRS launchers, but with one major difference: a chassis on wheels instead of tracks.

The MLRS tracks make the system highly mobile, with a maximum speed of 40 mph.

This means that the boats are difficult for the enemy to spot and can quickly change position after being fired upon to escape airstrikes.

What are the disadvantages of MLRS?

According to Ukraine, the number of missile launch systems offered by Western leaders is still too small.

In June, Mykhailo Podoljak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said the country needed at least 300 MLRS, 1,000 heavy howitzers, 500 tanks and 2,000 armored vehicles — far more than the West has provided.

As well as providing the Ukrainian military with rocket launchers, the UK has trained a number of Ukrainian forces to operate the system.