TechUkraine's MGM-140 ATACMS Missiles: Turning the Tide Against Russia

Ukraine's MGM‑140 ATACMS Missiles: Turning the Tide Against Russia

ATACMS missiles are a powerful weapon that can destroy strategic targets even 300 km from the front line.
ATACMS missiles are a powerful weapon that can destroy strategic targets even 300 km from the front line.
Images source: © forum | AFP PHOTO, South Korean Defence Ministry

8:02 PM EDT, May 6, 2024

Ukrainians are employing MGM-140 ATACMS ballistic missiles with devastating effectiveness against Russian strategic targets deep behind enemy lines, including the formidable Iskander-M ballistic missile launchers. Let's explore the capabilities of the MGM-140 ATACMS missiles.

On May 4, Ukraine launched another strike with MGM-140 ATACMS missiles, aiming to destroy Iskander-M ballistic missile launchers, a critical asset for Russia. The loss of Iskander-M missiles represents a significant setback for Russia, as these missiles are among the few against which Ukrainians have limited defensive options. More on the impact of losing Iskander-M.

This specific attack occurred in Crimea and the loss of the Iskanders has been confirmed by Russian sources on Telegram. Satellite imagery, despite its low resolution, reveals extensive areas of scorched earth, illustrating Ukraine's strategy of meeting force with force.

The Capabilities of MGM-140 ATACMS Missiles: A Thorn in Russia's Side

These ballistic missiles, supplied by the USA, have consistently proven their worth, inflicting heavy damage on Russian assets like helicopters at airports and even neutralizing or destroying sophisticated anti-aircraft systems such as the latest S-400 Triumph. Evidence of their effectiveness is widespread.

Documented attacks reveal that Ukrainians have been utilizing both the M39 and M39A1 versions of the missiles, equipped with cluster munition warheads. The M39 variant has a range of 102 miles and relies solely on inertial navigation for guidance. The M39A1 version extends the range to 186 miles and incorporates satellite navigation, which, despite susceptibility to interference, is less problematic due to the missile's significant destructive capability compared to other munitions like the GLSDB or M982 Excalibur.

Both the M39 and M39A1 variants of the MGM-140 ATACMS missiles are loaded with M74 APAM bomblets. The former carries 950 bomblets, while the latter contains 300 to make room for a larger fuel reserve.

Each M74 APAM bomblet, a small yet deadly weapon, can target objects within a few meters. They are encased in a tungsten shell and are filled with an explosive-incendiary mixture. Upon explosion, they produce lethal fragments capable of piercing bulletproof armor or aircraft fuselages. Moreover, these bomblets can spread an incendiary substance, potentially igniting fuel from damaged vehicles or aircraft. Their release generates a distinctive roar, terrorizing those on the receiving end with a subsequent devastating explosion that annihilates targets over a wide area.

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