The New MLRS Weapons for Ukraine

Javelins and stingers shoot at advancing tanks and aircraft, respectively. They are hand held missile launchers, which is aimed at a target, and the missiles have tracking capability. There are definitely defensive weapons.

Switchblades are called kamikaze drones, as they will blow up on impact with a target. Cameras onboard the switchblades allow for course corrections, so they do not hit unintended targets.

President Biden has approved sending Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to Ukraine. Ukraine has begged the US to supply them with MLRS. The US has been reluctant to supply Ukraine with these systems as the Russians will view this as an escalation of the war, and take countermeasures. The missiles have a range of 80 km (62 miles) and enough firepower can wipe out up to an entire square kilometer area (0.39 miles squared).

They are not calling this a weapon of mass destruction, which is reserved for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, but it is hard to avoid the analogy.

See Link: BBC, Ukraine may soon get US long-range MLRS rocket system

Multiple Launch Rocket Systems from C Battery, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division fire rockets during a cross-boundary live-fire March 25 near Cheorwon, South Korea. The live-fire was part of a larger combined joint exercise with elements from the U.S. Marines and Air Force as well as the Republic of Korea Army and Air Force.

These systems are not new. In fact, the Soviets were ahead of the US in the development of these truck mounted, multiple launch rocket systems in the early 1970’s. But, they are continuing to evolve, particularly with the sophistication and range of missiles they can fire. The missiles are guided ones to targets, such as a column of approaching tanks and troop carriers.

A total of 12 missiles can be fired, but the warhead breaks into fragments or bomblets. According to Wikipedia, one M270 firing 12 M26 rockets would drop 7,728 bomblets. From the BBC report, it appears the US has approved M270 systems. So, this has the potential of destroying more than the intended target, and innocent civilians may also be killed.

See link below on the M270:

Wikipedia: M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System

To avoid detection and reprisals, a “shoot and scoot” strategy is used, to immediately relocate after firing the missiles.

Previous to the M270, the US sent 108 M777 howitzers to Ukraine, which fires one missile at a time, and can be towed into location. Canada and Australia also sent M777 howitzers. The missiles launched from these howitzers can go up to 25 miles.

Wikipedia: M777 Howitzers

The Biden administration has stated that there is an agreement from Ukraine, not to fire missiles into Russia. This would be a devastating mistake. I wonder what would happen if accidentally, a missile crossed the border. Since the launchers are mobile, Russia will not know how close these systems are to their borders.

Foreign Minister Lavrov has called this a proxy war, but the US rejects this claim, as the war is being waged between Ukraine and Russia. Of course, Russia sees this as a much larger conflict, of retaking territory that rightfully belongs to their country (or more accurately the Soviet Federation).

I have no way of knowing if Biden was right. I am hoping that Russia does not escalate in terms of weapons at their disposal. They also have MLRS’s but don’t need them in Ukraine for now, as they can keep firing missiles at Ukraine from bases located in Russia.

It is not clear the overall strategy with the new weapons. I see the MLRS as a deterrent to Russia sending in large numbers of occupational troops to the Dunbas region, which they have obliterated with missile attacks. I wonder if the MLRS will be used to attack Russian ships in the Black Sea, as they prepare to attack Odesa. Putin will inevitably consider these weapons as further proof that this is a war between Russia and the US and NATO allies.

Somehow a negotiated settlement must be reached, which is difficult to see how a compromise in this war can be reached.

Stay tuned,

Dave

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