Guided glide bomb wiped out a German-made IRIS-T radar near Kherson

In a location near Kherson, roughly 25 km from the front line, the radar unit of a Ukrainian IRIS-T air defense system — a piece of equipment shipped from Berlin to Kyiv — was reportedly struck and likely severely damaged by Russian-guided bombs. This information comes to us via a post by German journalist Julian Röpcke of Bild, shared on a social platform commonly referred to as X [Twitter]. 

Röpcke asserts that the devastating bomb came from a jet plane. He points out an issue to Mr. Olaf Scholz, stating “This is the heart of the matter. If you supply Ukraine with the IRIS-T and the Patriot, yet fail to equip Ukraine with the weaponry or green light to strike Russian warplane bases, it won’t put Ukraine in a position to prevail. At best, it merely extends the time until they experience a potential defeat.”

Moreover, Röpcke insists that the beleaguered IRIS-T radar unit was not a mere “rubber decoy” or “dummy”. He clarifies this in response to a query about whether it is standard procedure for the Ukrainian armed forces to situate the radar battery in the open. Röpcke’s answer is definitive, “No, it’s not the standard protocol and it most certainly is not a dummy,” he states firmly.

German air defense in Ukraine 'quickly spends' the missiles - IRIS-T
Photo credit: Twitter

IRIS-T in Ukraine

Röpcke, in his analysis of the decimated IRIS-T radar system, characterizes it as one among the three. Indeed, Germany has delivered a trio of such systems up until now, with an additional six anticipated in the upcoming months. 

In truth, Ukraine had two systems until December 28. The Ukraine Weapons Tracker Twitter account in August showcased a video of Russian forces demolishing Ukraine’s inaugural IRIS-T SLM air defense system with the aid of Lancet-3 munitions. However, this information has not been confirmed as actual and requested. The reason – the video clearly shows the Russian Lancet drone hitting an IRIS-T decoy, most likely a wooden one.

German air defense in Ukraine 'quickly spends' the missiles - IRIS-T
Photo credit: Twitter

As per information released by the German Ministry of Defense in August, the Ukrainian military had in its grasp only two IRIS-T SLMs, along with a TRML-4D air surveillance radar. Presently, Ukraine seems to possess two IRIS-T systems once more, but the third will apparently not be used for a long time until a new one radar is delivered, or the one destroyed one on December 28 is repaired.

Near the front

One might wonder why the Ukrainian armed forces situated their IRIS-T defenses in plain sight. There’s a simple explanation: given the IRIS-T’s range, it needs to be positioned near the frontline—25 km away to be precise. 

By this positioning, the IRIS-T becomes an apparent target for Russian forces, who would undoubtedly aim to incapacitate it using all resources at their disposal. This includes air-guided missiles, anti-radiation missiles, Kinzhal missiles, Iskander ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. 

Furthermore, these bombs, with their long-range and sophisticated navigation systems, represent a formidable new challenge for Ukraine. Oleg Katkov, the chief editor at Defense Express, illuminated this threat during an interview with HB. 

He illustrated, “These bombs possess superior aerodynamic traits and can glide a substantial distance. While an ordinary bomb could hypothetically travel dozens of kilometers, it lacks the precision to hit the target accurately. Conversely, glide bombs’ wing attachments enable them to extend their range—from release to impact—using navigation systems for correction. Commonly, either satellite and inertial navigation or solely satellite navigation methods are used.”

Germany boosts its air defenses with an order for 1000+ Iris-Ts
Photo credit: Sundries

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On February 21, 2022, Russia stated that its border facility was attacked by Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of five Ukrainian fighters. However, Ukraine quickly dismissed these allegations, labeling them as ‘false flags’

In a notable move on the same day, Russia announced it officially recognized the self-proclaimed areas of DPR and LPR. Interestingly, according to Russian President Putin, this recognition covered all the Ukrainian regions. Following this declaration, Putin sent a battalion of Russia’s military forces, tanks included, into these areas.

Guided glide bomb wiped out a German-made IRIS-T radar near Kherson
Photo credit: Twitter

Fast forward to February 24, 2022, global headlines were dominated by a significant incident. Putin commanded a forceful military assault on Ukraine. Led by Russia’s impressive Armed Forces positioned at the Ukrainian border, this assault wasn’t spontaneous but a premeditated action. Despite the circumstances resembling a war, the Russian government refrains from using this term. They’d rather refer to it as a “special military operation”.

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