Did HARMs punch a hole for ATACMS missiles at Russia’s Saki airbase?

KYIV ($1=36.74 Ukrainian Hryvnias) — On August 9, the Russian Saki air base in Crimea was attacked. As of now, either nine or ten Russian aircraft are believed to have been destroyed. At least there is photographic evidence of one Su-24, and satellite images show that the destruction is extensive. The Saki Air Base is one of the two main bases used by the Russian Air Force to carry out airstrikes on the territory of Ukraine.

Did HARMs punch a hole for ATACMS missiles at Russia's Saky airbase?
Photo credit: Planet Labs

It is still unclear what exactly hit Saki airbase. The assumptions are many – from attack drones [the losses would not be so great] to the Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles, or the Ukrainian Hrim-2 short-range ballistic missile.


There is another possibility – the use of the ATACMS missile launched from the HIMARS MLRS. To date, there is no official confirmation from either the Ukrainian or American side that this missile has been delivered. Or there is no announced delivery of this missile to Ukraine.

But the AGM-88 HARM missile was also not announced until two days ago when its remains turned up in Ukraine. The appearance of AGM-88 HARM in Ukraine is quite puzzling and raises questions. It’s an anti-radar missile that’s supposed to jam or punch a hole in enemy air defenses. But the AGM-88 HARM is aircraft-launched only and is not designed to be launched from Soviet or Russian-designed combat aircraft.

Did HARMs punch a hole for ATACMS missiles at Russia's Saky airbase?
Twitter screenshot

Mykola Belieskov, a consultant from the National Institute for Strategic Studies of Ukraine makes a bold but not impossible claim – the Ukrainian Air Force used modified MiG-29 or Su-27 fighters. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that very recently, not any country, but the US supplied spare parts for the MiG-29, but did not specify what exactly.

According to another Ukrainian expert, Viktor Kevlyuk, it is entirely possible that the AGM-88 HARM could punch a hole in the air base’s entire air defense radar system, opening a small jamming window, and that window could be used to launch a missile strike with two ATACMS missiles.


ATACMS is a tactical ballistic missile. It was put into service in the early 1990s, and currently, only four countries have the privilege of being armed with it: the United States, South Korea, Turkey, and Greece.

Despite rumors, US may not provide Ukraine with 300km-range ATACMS
Photo credit: Wikipedia

As it has already become clear, the range of the missile is 300 km, but to be more precise: during tests, it achieved an operational capability of 310-320 km. The missile has documented participation in several conflicts: Persian Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, Iraq War.

Its main characteristics are as follows: its wingspan is 55 inches [1.4 m], its flight ceiling is 160,000 ft [50 km], its maximum speed is in excess of Mach 3 [0.6 mi/s; 1.0 km/s], and the missile’s guidance system is configured by GPS-aided inertial navigation guidance.


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