Artillery vehicle

This US rocket artillery system is devastating the Russians in Ukraine

During World War II, the Soviet Union used Katyusha rocket artillery to pulverize German forces, especially the defenders of Berlin during the final days of the war. In the 21st century, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, anti-rocket artillery again plays a major role on a European battlefield. However, this weapon system is used against Russia by Ukraine.

A HIMARS is tested at White Sands Missile Range (US Army)

The United States sent its M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to Ukraine as part of a $450 million security assistance program to combat the Russian invasion. Developed for the military in the late 1990s, the HIMARS is a lightweight multiple rocket launcher mounted on an M1140 FMTV truck chassis. This allows the HIMARS to deliver devastating indirect fire while being extremely mobile on the battlefield. In addition, it is small and light enough to be transported on a C-130 Hercules, which further improves its mobility.

This US rocket artillery system is devastating the Russians in Ukraine
A HIMARS is loaded onto a C-130 (US Army)

The HIMARS carries a single pod that can be loaded with six M30/M31 227mm rockets, two Precision Strike missiles, or an MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System. Using long-range rockets, it can engage targets 93 miles away. However, when armed with PrSM missiles, the HIMARS can accurately hit targets up to 310 miles away.

This US rocket artillery system is devastating the Russians in Ukraine
A HIMARS strike on ISIL targets is launched from Al Asad Airbase in Iraq (US Marine Corps)

HIMARS was used to great effect in Iraq and Afghanistan during the War on Terror. On June 25, 2022, Ukraine began employing HIMARS against Russian forces with similar effect. “The gunners of the Armed Forces of Ukraine skilfully hit some targets – military targets of the enemy on our territory, Ukrainian,” Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said on Telegram.

This first strike was reportedly carried out on a Russian base near the town of Izyum in Donbass and killed at least 40 Russian soldiers. Russia acknowledged the HIMARS attack but claimed it hit a hospital and killed two civilians. Ukraine also used the HIMARS’ long range to hit targets far behind Russian lines.

This US rocket artillery system is devastating the Russians in Ukraine
A Ukrainian HIMARS operating in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, early July 2022 (Ukrainian Armed Forces)

On July 15, 2022, a senior military official commented on the use of HIMARS in Ukraine. “I think there’s been a significant impact on what’s happening on the front lines,” the official said in a DOD statement. “If you think about the fact that the Ukrainians talked about a number of targets [they] hit…they spend a lot of time hitting targets like ammunition, supplies, other logistical supplies, command and control. And all of these things have a direct impact on the ability to conduct frontline operations.