TechUkrainian soldiers praise retired MIM-23 Hawk for drone defense

Ukrainian soldiers praise retired MIM‑23 Hawk for drone defense

MIM-23 Hawk
MIM-23 Hawk
Images source: © U.S. National Archives

8:19 PM EDT, July 4, 2024

Ukrainian soldiers commented on the MIM-23 Hawk air defense systems. This weapon was retired from service in the American army two decades ago. Still, despite this, it is effective in modern conflict scenarios, even in engagements for which it was not originally designed.

"During training abroad, we worked on simulators, and the instructors explained that this complex is not viewed as designed against drones due to certain design features. [...] Yes, although Shahed drones are a difficult target for us, the Hawks manage! During the first anti-aircraft engagement, six such drones were destroyed one after the other," said a Ukrainian soldier from the unit operating the MIM-23 Hawk, as quoted by Business Insider.

MIM-23 Hawk in the war in Ukraine

The MIM-23 Hawk (Homing All the Way Killer) is an American medium-range anti-aircraft missile system. It was designed in the 1960s as a weapon to pose a threat to the aircraft of the then Soviet Union.

Ukraine receives MIM-23 Hawk systems, which, although retired from service in many Western countries, remained in storage. It is known that the United States and Spain, among others, have sent such weapons to Ukraine in aid packages.

The MIM-23 Hawk system's range was initially 15 miles for targets located at a maximum altitude of 9 miles. However, later variants incorporated modifications that allowed the use of missiles with greater capabilities. Thanks to these improvements, the range increased to 25 miles. In practice, the MIM-23 Hawk proves effective in Ukraine against aircraft such as the Su-25 or Su-24 and older cruise missiles like the Kh-102. According to Ukrainian soldiers, Shahed drones can also be added to the list of MIM-23 Hawk targets.

This refers to the Shahed-136 drones that the Russians receive from Iran. These relatively simple unmanned aerial vehicles are based on a delta wing design. They are about 11.5 feet long and weigh approximately 441 pounds, with about 110 pounds accounted for by the warhead. The low construction costs of these drones mean that the Russians use them on a very large scale. They have even made efforts to produce Shahed-136 drones in their own country.

As Ukrainian soldiers explain, when using older weapons, it is very important not only to thoroughly check their technical condition but also to consider the method of their operation, which often proves even more important.

"The main secret is not even in the weapon itself that we use, but in the synchronous and well-coordinated work of the unit. We are well aware of the risks and consequences if we do not hear and complement each other," added a Ukrainian soldier from the unit operating the MIM-23 Hawk.

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