Russian experts study the US ATACMS guidance system – source

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Russian experts are currently examining the guidance and flight correction systems of the US ATACMS operational-tactical missile, according to RIA Novosti, citing a weapons specialist.

The specialist noted that an ATACMS missile warhead, equipped with a guidance system and three laser ring gyroscopes, which help maintain its configured ballistic trajectory, has been acquired by the Russian military. Additionally, a GPS antenna is used for correction in the initial and final sections of the ballistic trajectory. “We have the capability to analyze the missile systems’ performance throughout the correction base stage as it follows a complex ballistic path,” the expert stated.

Russia asserts that the June 23 attack on Sevastopol was executed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces using ATACMS equipped with cluster munitions. The attack tragically resulted in the deaths of four individuals, including two children, and injuries to another 153 people, 27 of whom were children. Twenty-two of the injured were evacuated to Moscow for specialized care, including 12 children who require special medical interventions due to the severity of their conditions.

M39A1 ATACMS for Ukraine are officially expired but still usable
Photo credit: Medium

On April 24, international media outlets reported that the United States had quietly dispatched the Army’s Long-Range Tactical Missile Systems [ATACMS] to Ukraine. This was part of a military support package sent in March.

Previously, Washington hesitated to provide Ukraine with longer-range weapons due to concerns they might be used on targets deep inside Russian territory, potentially escalating the conflict. However, in February, President Joe Biden approved their delivery, with a “significant” number included in a $300 million aid package announced the following month, according to officials.

“We’ve already sent some, and we intend to send more,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel mentioned the delivery wasn’t announced to keep Ukraine’s operational security intact, as per their request. Neither official confirmed the exact number of ATACMS sent.

Russia announced that it had destroyed two US-made HIMARS MRLs
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Army Tactical Missile System [ATACMS] is a surface-to-surface missile system developed by the United States Army. It is designed to provide long-range, precision-strike capabilities against a variety of targets, including enemy air defenses, command and control centers, and logistics nodes. The system enhances the Army’s ability to conduct deep-strike operations and support joint force objectives.

ATACMS missiles come in various sizes and configurations, but they generally measure around 13 feet in length and have a diameter of approximately 24 inches. The missile’s weight can vary depending on the specific variant, but it typically ranges from 3,600 to 3,800 pounds. These dimensions allow the missile to be launched from multiple platforms, including the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System [MLRS] and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System [HIMARS].

The propulsion system of the ATACMS is a solid-fuel rocket motor, which provides the necessary thrust to achieve its long-range capabilities. Solid-fuel propulsion offers several advantages, including a simpler design, reduced maintenance requirements, and the ability to be stored for extended periods without significant degradation in performance. This makes ATACMS a reliable option for rapid deployment and use in various operational scenarios.

Official: Video shows the first use of M142 HIMARS by Ukraine
Photo credit: Own sources

ATACMS is available in several system types, each tailored to specific mission requirements. The primary variants include Block I, Block IA, and Block IA Unitary. The Block I variant carries a cluster munition warhead, while the Block IA and Block IA Unitary variants are equipped with unitary warheads for precision strikes. Each system type offers unique capabilities, allowing commanders to select the most appropriate option based on the target and mission objectives.

The warhead types used in ATACMS missiles are designed to address a wide range of target sets. The Block I variant features a cluster munition warhead, which disperses multiple submunitions over a wide area, making it effective against dispersed targets such as enemy troops and light vehicles. The Block IA and Block IA Unitary variants, on the other hand, are equipped with unitary warheads, which deliver a single, high-explosive charge for precision strikes against hardened or high-value targets.

The operational range of ATACMS varies depending on the specific variant. The Block I variant has a range of approximately 165 kilometers [102 miles], while the Block IA and Block IA Unitary variants can reach distances of up to 300 kilometers [186 miles]. This extended range capability allows the system to engage targets deep within enemy territory, providing a significant tactical advantage and enhancing the overall effectiveness of joint and coalition operations.



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