TechUkraine's front line remote repairs: A new model for U.S. Army maintenance support?

Ukraine's front line remote repairs: A new model for U.S. Army maintenance support?

M142 HIMARS launcher firing ATACMS missiles
M142 HIMARS launcher firing ATACMS missiles
Images source: © US Army
3:14 PM EST, February 6, 2024

"It's extraordinary, and we've never tried something like this ourselves," expressed Doug Bush, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics, and Technology. In his view, the American army needs to re-evaluate how it supports its soldiers in the field. Remote repairs, or "tele-conversations," as they are known, can significantly simplify the repair of military equipment and eliminate the need for its expensive and time-consuming transportation to special warehouses and then back to the front lines.

Lessons Learned by Americans from the War in Ukraine

The American service Task & Purpose noted that this solution became operational just three months after the start of the war in Ukraine. Officially, the U.S. Army established a specialized helpdesk for Ukrainians using American weapons in July 2022 in Jasionka. Assistance personnel provided remote support with repairs and maintenance of military equipment. Ukrainian soldiers could call directly from the front lines, and through encrypted voice channels, video connections, and chats, they were able to restore operations of the M777 howitzers, HIMARS rocket systems, and Javelins.

Solutions such as these deliver invaluable support to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and aid in repelling attacks by the Russian aggressor. It is also worth mentioning that the FGM-148 Javelin, a modern anti-tank weapon developed in 1989 in the U.S., has earned high regard worldwide due to its effectiveness and ease of use. It is particularly praised by Ukrainians who rely on this "fire and forget" anti-tank missile system to combat heavily armored vehicles like Russian battle tanks and helicopters and to obliterate bunkers and fortifications.

The M777, on the other hand, are lightweight 155 mm caliber howitzers produced by the British arms conglomerate BAE Systems. Designed for the U.S. Armed Forces' rapid response units, they are gradually replacing the much heavier and lower combat valued M198 howitzers. M777s have been incorporated into the armed forces of Australia, Canada, India, and Saudi Arabia. Depending on the type of ammunition used, the range of these howitzers varies. With high-explosive shells, the range is about 15.3 miles, with Rocket Assisted Projectiles (RAP) it's about 18.6 miles, and with M983 Excalibur projectiles, it's around 24.8 miles. The maximum rate of fire is five shots per minute, and the steady firing rate is two shots per minute.

Ukrainians consider the HIMARS rocket systems extremely valuable military equipment and strive to maintain them in the best possible condition. These weapons have been used to execute many dramatic attacks and cause substantial destruction to the Russian army's material and human resources. The M142 HIMARS are multi-barrel rocket launchers produced by Lockheed Martin, an American corporation. These systems are mounted on a wheeled chassis - a five-ton military truck FMTV 6x6 - and can reach a maximum speed of approximately 59 mph, with a range estimated at around 298 miles.

As previously reported, the HIMARS can accommodate various types of ammunition, including standard Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) caliber 227 mm rockets and modern guided ammunition. Noteworthy are the M30/M31 missiles specifically designed for this launcher. They use GPS for guidance, among other things, and their range is estimated at 18.6 - 43.5 miles. HIMARS launchers can also be armed with MGM-140 ATACMS tactical missiles (Army TACtical Missile System), which are precision strike weapons having a range from 15.5 miles up to about 186 miles.

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