Which SAM countered HIMARS during Antonovsky Bridge missile attack

PANAGYURISHTE ($1=1.92 Bulgarian Levs) — On July 19 and 20, the armed forces of Ukraine launched a missile attack on the Antonivka Road Bridge, also known as the Antonovsky Bridge that crosses the Dnieper river in Kherson, Kherson Oblast, southern Ukraine. Social media was flooded with pictures of the potholed but not destroyed bridge, as well as videos of cars crossing the bridge, following the Ukrainian attack.

Russia announced that it had destroyed two US-made HIMARS MRLs
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Ukrainian armed forces claim that they used US-supplied M142 HIMARS missile systems for the attack. Russia does not deny this information. Speaking about the attack on Antonovsky Bridge Andrey Kartapolov, head of the State Duma Defense Committee says that “there is no need to fear [MLRS HIMARS], we must fight it, it is not a panacea, it is one of the types of weapons that the enemy is using now.”

Antonovsky Bridge is a key road and pedestrian facility, especially today when hostilities are taking place in the region, as this bridge is the only one crossing the Dnieper and connecting Kherson with the city of Alyosha. Kiril Stremousov, deputy head of the Military-Civil Administration of the region, says that as a result of the Ukrainian missile attack, the bridge received four damages, but they will be repaired.

Pantsir SAM

Although there is no official confirmation from the Russian armed forces, it was Kirill Stremousov who claimed in a statement that the Pantsir mobile anti-aircraft system countered the American M142 HIMARS during the shelling of the Antonovsky Bridge. There are reports that Russia has deployed Pantsir batteries in Kherson since the beginning of the war on February 24. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that in March a Pantsir got stuck in the mud of Kherson and was attacked and destroyed by the Ukrainian armed forces. There are reports of at least two more destroyed, as well as one captured by the Ukrainians.

Russian anti-aircraft missile and cannon system Pantsyr get hypersonic missile
Photo credit: TASS

The Pantsir SAM has several variants, but it appears that the Russian armed forces most likely used one of two variants: the Pantsir-S1M [land version] or the Pantsir-M/EM [naval version]. The remaining two versions of the Pantsir [Pantsir-S2/S2E and Pantsir-SM] ended their development shortly before the start of the war, and the Pantsir-SA was intended for the Arctic troops of Russia.

Both versions [Pantsir-S1M and Pantsir-M/EM] have been significantly upgraded following the terrible history the Pantsir-S1 had against Turkish Bayraktar TB2 attack drones in Libya and Syria.

Pantsir SAM against M142 HIMARS

Pantsir-S1M and Pantsir-M/EM have different strike ranges. Russia claims that during the missile attacks on the Antonovsky Bridge, the Pantsir SAM intercepted 12 HIMARS missiles and that the holes in the bridge were not from direct missile hits, but debris from the interception and destruction.

Ukraine received M30/M31 rockets with 51lb of PBX-109 high explosives
Photo credit: Think Defence

If the Russian claims are to be believed, the Pantsir-S1M is most likely the system used against HIMARS on July 19th and 20th. Although, after the Pantsir-S1 upgrade and increased missile range [new 57E6M-E surface-to-air missile with the increased ceiling from 15 to 18 km, firing range from 20 to 30 km, and speed from 1300 to 1700 m/s] Pantsir -S1M continues to be designed to engage missiles at short ranges rather than medium or long ranges. The Pantsir-S1M has a new L-range radar tracking up to 40 targets simultaneously, as well as a multifunctional EHF radar that controls the fire control system and can hit up to 4 targets simultaneously.

However, to achieve “debris hits” like those on the Antonovsky Bridge, more explosive power is needed, and the Pantsir-S1M has it. The Pantsir-S1M has a 25 kg fragmentation warhead, compared to the 20 kg warhead of the standard 57E6-E missile.

The result of the M142 HIMARS is disconcerting

There is something quite disconcerting – the result of the M142 HIMARS. If we abstract from the Russian claims [let’s call them propaganda] and assume that the Russian Pantsir-S1Ms did not intercept any HIMARS missiles, then the hole-strewn but still functioning bridge shows us little power of the missiles. 12 missiles fired [that we know of according to Russian claims] would have caused damage to the point of rendering the bridge unusable. It is not necessary to destroy the entire bridge, it is necessary to concentrate blows on one point so that several meters of it are removed from the general structure of the bridge and thus stop all traffic [by vehicle or on foot] on it.

Ukraine received M30/M31 rockets with 51lb of PBX-109 high explosives
Photo credit: Think Defence

The result of HIMARS is even more disturbing after Kiril Stremousov says: “on Wednesday, Ukraine fired at the bridge again, 11 of the 12 missiles fired hit it.” The bridge, after it was temporarily stopped for heavy-duty trucks [apparently the damage was not significant this time too] was opened for passage again.

Ukraine uses M30/M31 GMLRS

Ukraine uses the M30 GMLRS and M31 GMLRS missiles for its missile systems, which have a short range [from 15 to 92 km]. The two missiles have a different payloads: the M30 GMLRS is armed with 404 DPICM M101 submunitions, and the M31 GMLRS is armed with a 200 lb high-explosive unitary warhead [51 pounds of PBX-109 high explosive in a steel blast-fragmentation case].


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