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America is rehearsing secret tactics to attack Russia, Moscow says

This post was published in Vzglyad. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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MOSCOW, (BM) – NATO’s surprise drills with state-of-the-art multiple launch rocket systems in Romania are worth taking more than seriously. The purpose of these maneuvers, according to some military analysts, is not Crimea at all. There is another Russian region where cruise missiles and strategic bombers may not be used for the first wave of attacks.

At first glance, the past joint Romanian-American exercises scale is not impressive either by the number of military personnel involved – about 130 people, or military equipment – 30 units. However, their main feature was not the mass character but the development of tactics for delivering swift fire strikes.

According to the legend of the exercise, two M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket [HIMARS, pronounced “Haymars”] multiple launch rocket systems [HIMARS, pronounced “Haymars”] were delivered to the territory of Romania from Germany by military transport aircraft C-130 Hercules to the Mikhail Kogelchanu airbase. MLRS were quickly deployed to positions at the Kapu Midi training ground in the coastal district of Constanta. They successfully fired, after which they curled up and promptly returned to the place of their central deployment in Germany.

According to Forbes, the entire transfer, launches, and return operation “took several hours.” Indeed, they worked at least promptly. It is difficult to judge the results and accuracy due to the lack of information about them. At the same time, Forbes, speaking about HIMARS installations, uses the following expression: “poses a serious and unpredictable threat to Russian troops in the region”.

Washington’s actions are a “message to Moscow,” demonstrating the “restoration of firepower” of the American army, the newspaper comments. What is the danger of these American MLRS?

From the Romanian Constanta, from the vicinity of which the launches were carried out, the distance in a straight line [across the Black Sea] is 392 kilometers to the Russian Sevastopol. The M142 HIMARS system, being a simplified and lightweight version of the M270 MLRS installation, uses ammunition similar to it, which is more rockets. They have a caliber of 227 mm and a length of 3.94 meters; however, they differ in different weight, combat load, and flight range. For various modifications, it ranges from 32 to 84 kilometers. It will not reach Crimea from Romania. Even in the version of a guided projectile, it is ineffective in hitting the more sea targets with some deviations from the target. A unique feature of the Haymars is that its launcher, designed for six missiles in a container, can be used for other ammunition. And, say, one of the perfect developments – the MGM-140В ATACMS Block 1A rocket already hits at a distance of up to 300 kilometers.

But this is not enough. Why then all this “Romanian performance” with “danger to the Russian forces” if it is impossible to finish them off with such weapons?

To answer this question, we need to recall four years ago, when a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft arrived in Estonia [Tallinn airport]. It also carried two M142 HIMARS systems. These installations were used for firing within the framework of the joint NATO exercises Saber Strike – 2016. Here it is somehow more and more precise with the distances for the Haymars launches – in the sight of Pskov and even St. Petersburg. But still, the main target for these American MLRS seems to be the Kaliningrad region.

At least, both the military and political leadership of the leading NATO countries, as well as the neighbors of Kaliningrad [Poland and the Baltic states], regularly declare the danger that allegedly emanates from this Russian exclave. From time to time, ritual phrases are pronounced about the preparation of a “Russian invasion” from the Kaliningrad region’s territory.

The region is increasingly featured in all kinds of plans and scenarios for the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. This Russian exclamation on the Baltic Sea shores, bordering Poland and Lithuania, is like a bone in the throat of NATO, of which worried neighbors are members. According to Warsaw and Vilnius, Russia is by definition a source of constant danger in the region.

Although Moscow has never expressed aggressive intentions, moreover, has repeatedly declared its peacefulness, under these “threats,” large forces of the alliance have been pulled up to its western borders, primarily American troops. NATO strategic bombers have repeatedly practiced missile strikes on Kaliningrad.

According to open sources, the concentration of NATO troops around Kaliningrad is several times [if not more] higher than the number of weapons and service members of the Russian army’s defensive group located in the Kaliningrad region. Who, then, is the real aggressor, who is preparing to attack? Especially when you consider that the main high-tech Russian troops in Kaliningrad are air-defense divisions, by definition purely defensive weapons?

Poland and Lithuania are presented here as the ideal springboard for an offensive against Kaliningrad. As military analysts suggest, the first strike on the Russian army group will most likely not be delivered by B-52 bombers or even cruise missiles. All of these tools of attack are relatively easily repelled by Russian air defense systems.

Artillery batteries secretly and operatively deployed in Poland and Lithuania are quite capable in a short time to unleash an avalanche of fire on Kaliningrad suddenly. First of all, against Russian air defense systems and Iskander missile launchers located in the region. Moreover, the coordinates of all the most important Russian military facilities on the Kaliningrad region’s territory are well known to NATO intelligence – with an accuracy of up to a meter and the location of a specific air defense installation. Only half an hour of artillery preparation – and thousands of shells can raze to the ground both Russian airfields, barracks, warehouses with weapons and ammunition, command posts – all critical military infrastructure. And only after this, after the destruction of the defensive potential, NATO aviation and ground forces will take over.

You can recall the words of the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, David Goldfein, who said that the US military was preparing a new concept of warfare, the essence of which is to penetrate enemy territory secretly. “Your defense is in the holes, like Swiss cheese, we know these holes, we can use them, we can penetrate them and keep the objects on your territory at gunpoint,” this aviation general, who was downed in his F-16 2, confessed. May 1999 in Western Serbia. He knew what he was saying – when an invasion, both land, and air, must first destroy the enemy’s ground means.

“Artillery and rocket systems, despite their relatively short firing range, have not lost their relevance on the modern battlefield,” confirms military expert Vladislav Shurygin. – For example, the German self-propelled artillery unit PzH 2000 shoots at 30 kilometers or more, the South African G-6 self-propelled gun has a firing range of 50 kilometers, the Russian 2S35 “Coalition-SV” reaches up to 80 kilometers in range. These are the most long-range guns in the world at the moment. Moreover, they have good maneuverability, and the ability to change positions, increasing their survivability on the battlefield quickly.

Again, modern artillery is a precision weapon, including through new adjustable ammunition.

The same can be said about multiple launch rocket systems, which, having a more excellent range and power, allowing them to destroy enemy personnel and military equipment in a short time and over large areas, remain one of the most popular types of weapons. Their agility also matters. It was no coincidence that the Americans created their HIMARS system in a simplified and lightweight version based on the heavier MLRS, which allows them to be quickly transferred both by ground and by air landing.

Another difference between artillery and rocket launchers is the complexity, and sometimes the impossibility of destroying their warheads in the air. The shorter the distance from the position to the target, the more effective their fire is. Tactical, operational-tactical missiles are more defenseless in front of modern means of air and missile defense. The ability to strike at point-blank range is especially appreciated in offensive operations when artillery and MLRS systems follow the attacking troops for dozens, not hundreds of kilometers.

Thus, the exercises conducted in Romania with the launch of the Hyrams were highly likely to be precisely the exercises on using the M142 HIMARS in other territories. Possible launches from Poland or Lithuania in the Kaliningrad region could also start positions from Ukraine for places to the Crimea. The Hercules does not care where the Hyrams can be delivered promptly, and their American crews do not care who will provide deployment – Romanians, Poles, or Ukrainians. The goal is always the same – the Russian army.

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