How Ukraine Uses Storm Shadow Missiles, ATACMS and More Against Russia | WSJ Equipped

How Ukraine Uses Storm Shadow Missiles, ATACMS and More Against Russia | WSJ Equipped

Breaking down Ukraine's armory (00:00:00)

  • Ukraine has been using an array of weapons since Russia's invasion in 2022.

Storm Shadow missiles (00:00:18)

  • Storm Shadow missiles offer Ukraine a strike range exceeding 155 miles, impacting Russian logistics.
  • These missiles target specific locations such as command and control centers.
  • They utilize a jet engine, lightweight materials, and navigation systems for long-range strikes.
  • Storm Shadow's targeting is precise due to its integrated INS, GPS, and terrain contour matching systems.
  • Designed to fly low, they evade radar and may contain undisclosed countermeasures.
  • They feature delayed detonation for increased lethality against hardened targets.
  • One missile costs over $1 million, and Ukraine's supply is limited.
  • Ukraine needs to use the Storm Shadow strategically due to cost and limited aircraft capable of launch.
  • Supplies for the missile are scarce, with most attributable to the UK's undisclosed amount sent to Ukraine.
  • The use of these missiles has helped Ukraine hit strategic targets, affecting the supply lines to Russian forces.

ATACMS missiles (00:08:18)

  • Ukrainian forces have requested the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) from the U.S.
  • ATACMS missiles can hit targets up to 190 miles away with a 500lb Warhead, enabling strikes on Russian-held territories.
  • The U.S. initial hesitancy to provide ATACMS stemmed from escalation concerns and limited domestic stock.
  • ATACMS can be launched from ground vehicles such as HIMARS, offering shoot-and-scoot tactics.
  • These missiles have a top speed of Mach 3, hitting time-sensitive targets quickly and are maneuverable for various attack angles.
  • ATACMS warheads come as unitary or submunition types, each suitable for different targets.
  • U.S. concerns about escalation and stockpile depletion delayed ATACMS delivery, but recent counter-offensive needs and impending PRISM missile stockpiling have made the U.S. reconsider.
  • The PRISM missile, replacing ATACMS in the U.S. stockpile, will enter production soon, potentially reducing the impact of ATACMS delivery to Ukraine.

StarStreak missiles (00:15:43)

  • StarStreak missile exceeds three times the speed of sound, is being reproduced after the UK supplied Ukraine with stockpiles.
  • It's a lightweight, man-portable air defense system with a range of 4.3 miles, designed to counter aircraft like drones, fighters, and helicopters.
  • The StarStreak can be carried by soldiers or mounted on vehicles such as the British Alvis Stormer.
  • It travels faster than the US Stinger missile, reducing enemy reaction time and increasing lethality.
  • Uniquely, it deploys three tungsten darts at the target instead of a single warhead, improving the chances of destruction.
  • StarStreak uses a laser-guided system which is more precise and resistant to countermeasures than heat-seeking systems.
  • Operators of StarStreak need more training, and the system is better suited to slower-moving targets.
  • With its laser-guided approach, StarStreak can reliably target drones, which often evade heat-seeking missiles.
  • Supply and production are the main issues, with manufacturer Talis facing supply chain challenges, potentially delaying production by over a year.
  • UK has provided Ukraine with various air defense systems and over 10,000 missiles, but the exact number of StarStreak missiles in Ukraine's possession remains undisclosed.

BM-21 Grad rocket launcher (00:20:32)

  • The BM-21 Grad rocket launcher, used since 1969, is still prevalent in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
  • It can fire 40 unguided rockets in 20 seconds to blanket an area the size of 10 football fields with high-explosive fragmentation warheads.
  • The Grad is effective for suppressive fire, covering troops, and weakening the enemy before attacks, but has no guidance system, leading to imprecise results.
  • Original stockpiles in Ukraine are likely depleted, and despite the US supplying 60,000 Grad rockets, Ukrainian forces have had to conserve ammunition or adapt the launchers into smaller, less effective versions.
  • Without replenishment from other countries, Ukraine struggles to maintain its Grad launcher supply.
  • BM-21 trucks have no armor, leaving operators vulnerable and necessitating quick retreat after firing ("shoot and scoot" tactic).
  • The Grad launcher, while outdated and prone to mechanical issues, remains in use because of its availability and simplicity, even as it lacks the modern features and precision of newer systems like the US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

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