See what ATACMS cluster munitions are doing to Russian Ka-52

Web sources reveal a snapshot capturing a damaged portion of the fuselage of a Russian Ka-52 assault helicopter, struck by an ATACMS round. This news is reportedly coming from certain Ukrainian analysts, based on circulated photographs. 

See what ATACMS cluster munitions are doing to Russian Ka-52
Photo credit: RT

It was reportedly captured at an airbase outside the hostile territory of Luhansk where, according to satellite-rendered images, at least five adversarial helicopters were ascertained to have incurred damage. However, the subsequent image illustrates the considerable complexity involved in the assessment of the degree of helicopter damage from extra-terrestrial images. 

At an initial glance, it appears that the helicopter’s compartment and surrounding body have suffered multiple perforations. A closer inspection, however, presents a different narrative: 

The featured Russian helicopter doesn’t bear signs of combustion, disintegration, or other forms of visible deformation – indications that remain obscure from a satellite view. Nevertheless, these are multiple indications of M75 cluster submunition fragments contained within a single area of the cabin measuring approximately 1.5 by 1.5 meters. 

Working in parallel, the focus shifts to the cabin, as the number of such perforations in the region of the engines and the fuel system holds greater significance. Despite being labeled as ‘armored’ in Russia, the Ka-52 is essentially constructed from small arms, as was articulated by Russian pilots in the spring of the preceding year. 

See what ATACMS cluster munitions are doing to Russian Ka-52
Photo credit: RT

This and other adversarial helicopters with comparable damage are earmarked for the factory, where a comprehensive defect diagnosis can be carried out and all defective components replaced. 

Nevertheless, such recuperative efforts demand not just supplementary armor and raw materials, but also time. It is, in fact, the climate that might surface as a larger hindrance for the Russian military, given its substantial influence on the progression of warfare. 

Several Ukrainian experts prognosticate that the Russians may opt not to mend the affected Ka-52 helicopters and instead redeploy them to the front lines in their current state of disrepair.

What are ATAKMS cluster munitions?

M39A1 ATACMS for Ukraine are officially expired but still usable
Photo credit: Medium

ATACMS cluster munitions, also known as Army Tactical Missile System cluster munitions, are a type of weapon that is designed to deliver multiple submunitions to a target area.

These submunitions are small explosive devices that are released from the main missile or projectile. The purpose of using cluster munitions is to cover a larger area with explosives, increasing the chances of hitting multiple targets or causing widespread damage.

The structure of ATACMS cluster munitions typically consists of a main missile or projectile, which serves as the carrier for the submunitions. The main missile is equipped with a guidance system to ensure accurate delivery to the target area.

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

Inside the main missile, there is a payload section that houses the submunitions. The payload section is designed to release the submunition at a predetermined point in the missile’s trajectory.

The submunitions themselves are usually contained within a canister or dispenser, which is located inside the payload section of the main missile. The canister or dispenser holds multiple submunitions, which can vary in size and type depending on the specific munition.

When the main missile reaches the desired point, the canister or dispenser opens, releasing the submunition into the air.

How do they work?

Once released, the submunitions are designed to disperse over a wide area, covering a larger target area than a single explosive device could. Each submunition is equipped with its own guidance system, allowing it to independently seek out and engage individual targets.

The submunitions can be designed to explode upon impact with a target or to have a delayed detonation, increasing the chances of hitting multiple targets within the target area.


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