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Ukraine Hits Two Russian Air Bases With MGM-140 ATACMS

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    Ukraine Hits Two Russian Air Bases With MGM-140 ATACMS

    The aftermath of the conflict between Hamas and Israel has divided the attention of Ukraine's arms donors. Even so, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has a strategy to maintain the attention and support of the West, one of which is by attacking MGM-140 ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) tactical ballistic missiles supplied secretly by the US, which have been used to attack air bases.

    The attack caused the destruction of at least several helicopters, several vehicles, ammunition depots, and caused serious damage to the airfield, as confirmed by several international press agencies.

    Reported by Armyrecognition.com, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has detailed the impact of attacks on airfields located in Berdyansk and Luhansk (Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine), both of which are located in Russian-occupied territory. The attack resulted in the destruction of nine helicopters, an air defense launcher.

    It is believed that less than a dozen ATACMS have been delivered to Ukraine in recent days. This addition to Ukrainian arsenal increases their ability to target distant Russian positions. So far, it is not known what ATACMS variant or block the US sent to Ukraine.

    Historically, in the early 1980s, the United States Army (US Army) identified the need for a tactical rocket launch system capable of providing long-range firepower. 

    In response to this need, a project was initiated to develop the system. Martin Marietta (later merged with Lockheed Martin) was given the contract to develop the MGM-140 ATACMS. This project began in the mid-1980s.

    ATACMS underwent a series of rigorous tests and evaluations, including field testing and flight trials. ATACMS began to be used operationally by the US Army in 1991 during the First Gulf War. This missile has good precision capabilities and can be used to attack land targets, including tactical and strategic targets at long range.

    Over the years, the ATACMS system underwent a number of capability and hardware upgrades, including increased range and precision. This allows these systems to continue to be relevant in military operations.

    With a rocket engine that uses solid rocket fuel, the MGM-140 ATACMS has a fairly high launch speed. However, the launch speed may vary depending on the variant and launch conditions. In general, ATACMS launch speeds range from Mach 3 to Mach 4.

    Such high launch speeds allow ATACMS missiles to reach targets quickly, which can be an important factor in surprising an enemy or reducing response time to urgent threats. In addition, this speed also provides a better ability to evade enemy air defenses.

    ATACMS weight varies depending on the variant. However, in general, the weight of the ATACMS launch system is around 24.5 tons, while the weight of each missile reaches 1.6 tons. 

    As for the warhead, it can vary depending on the variant and specific role of the missile, with a weight in the range of 160-560 kg. Among them are the Unitary Warhead and Brilliant Anti-Tank (BAT) Submunition.

    Unitary Warhead is used to attack various types of ground targets such as infrastructure, enemy troops, armored vehicles, and others. This is a conventional load with no additional submunitions. Meanwhile, BAT is a submunition designed to launch and search for enemy armored targets, such as tanks. BAT submunitions have the ability to identify and target armored vehicles within a certain radius.

    The MGM-140 ATACMS was launched from two platform options, namely the M270 and M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System). Because Ukraine already operates HIMARS, ATACMS was launched from HIMARS.

    The longest range of the MGM-140 ATACMS depends on the variant used. Among the various ATACMS variants, the newest variant, namely Block VI, has the longest range, reaching around 499 kilometers.

    However, it is important to remember that exact range can vary depending on factors such as launch configuration, weather conditions, and payload weight. Previous variants of ATACMS had shorter ranges, and range capability could be one aspect that is improved in the development of new variants.

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