By Kris Osborn – Warrior Maven
Vvideo Above: How Ukraine’s new air defenses could stop Russian missile bombardment
Almost every day the news reports aerial video showing massive devastation in Ukraine caused by Russian ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, rockets and artillery. Besides adding a few airstrikes, these ground weapons are terrorizing and destroying Ukrainian lives, killing innocent children and decimating entire civilian neighborhoods.
Images of burned, bombed and destroyed Ukrainian communities, apartment buildings and other civilian areas are widespread, continuous and clearly deliberate.
Can Russia’s campaign of terror with these guns on the ground be stopped? How?
The Pentagon is finally sending M777 155mm mobile howitzers that could aid in this effort, but there are a variety of proven interceptors, technologies, and detection systems capable of tracking and, in some cases, destroying these incoming missiles.
C-RAM counter-rocket artillery and mortar systems
Would the Ukrainians benefit from advanced ground-based radar systems and integrated defense systems such as Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) systems?
C-RAM, which has been around for many years now, uses a Phalanx “area” weapon capable of firing hundreds of projectiles to cover an area, effectively intercepting or eliminating mortar, artillery, or even some rockets.
It is close range defense, but when networked with radar and fire control, C-RAM can provide substantial defense against a range of enemy ground attacks. Why not give the Ukrainians C-RAM weapons to protect some of their crucial high-value target areas from Russian ground attacks?
Along the same lines, why not give the Ukrainians long-range precision ground rockets, such as the GPS-guided multiple launch rocket system, capable of locating enemy targets at ranges of up to 80 miles? This, in tandem with certain types of precision artillery, could help accomplish the essential task of neutralizing Russian missile launch sites that could be located by aerial drones carrying out surveillance missions.
Interestingly, Ukrainian President Zelensky may think the same way, as he specifically asked for “MLRS” as part of what he needed in an interview with CNN.
MLRS, for Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, are the precursor to precision-guided GMLRS that can be mounted and fired from a truck. These weapons, if backed up by effective fire control and surveillance, could appear extremely effective when it comes to tracking and destroying Russian launch sites.
However, many Russian missile launchers are likely mobile on the road and may need to be targeted with munitions capable of changing course in flight, or targeted from the air. The United States is rapidly developing this technology and already has it in some areas, but it is unclear whether Ukraine has or could acquire this type of maneuvering ammunition.
Nevertheless, the ability to find and eliminate non-maneuvering or even temporarily “fixed” launchers could change the equation in terms of protecting Ukrainians from indiscriminate Russian rocket and missile attacks on civilian areas as part of a campaign of terror and murder.
There is yet another weapon system that could have as much or more impact, which has not yet been requested by Zelensky, and that is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). HIMARS are truck-fired rockets capable of destroying stationary targets up to 300 miles away, a range that would provide the Ukrainians with a still unprecedented ability to reach and destroy Russian force concentrations, convoys and of course sites launch.
Finally, there’s the matter of the Patriot missile, a battle-tested ballistic and cruise missile interceptor capable of finding and destroying incoming short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
Asked about the potential deployment of the Patriot to Ukraine, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States would not send it, given that it would require American personnel on the ground in Ukraine to operate, which that the Pentagon has not yet wanted to do. . However, would the United States train the Ukrainians to use the Patriot? Are there any European equivalents with a Patriot-like intercept capability that could be sent? What about Israel’s Iron Dome?
These are things to consider. Russian forces are already struggling to advance on the ground against Ukrainian defences, why not massively suppress, halt or minimize their long-range rocket and missile fire as well? There might be ways to make this possible to more completely cripple Russia’s relentless bombing and campaign of terror.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a highly trained expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air military anchor and specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military pundit on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.