WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s defense forces are using wooden decoys in the form of HIMARS for Russian troops to launch long-range cruise missiles to destroy them. This is reported by The Washington Post.
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The publication notes that the wooden replicas cannot be distinguished from a real artillery battery, especially through the lens of the drone. “When UAVs see a battery, it looks like a VIP target,” a senior Ukrainian official said.
It is noted that after several weeks of using decoys it was possible to “take out” at least 10 “Kalibr” cruise missiles. This success led Ukraine to expand the production of copies. This is one of many asymmetric tactics used by Ukraine to gain an advantage over the enemy.
The publication also emphasizes that the destruction of such copies of HIMARS may explain the unusually high number of systems “destroyed” by the Russians. They regularly report this in their General Staff briefs. “They claimed to have hit more HIMARS than we even sent,” noted one US diplomat.
It is emphasized that the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Sergei Shoigu, ordered the destruction of highly mobile missile systems as priority targets as early as last month. This is dictated by the fact that thanks to their use, the armed forces were able to liquidate Russian ammunition depots and disrupt logistics routes.
A Pentagon official earlier denied Russia’s claims, noting that all US-supplied HIMARS are operational. In addition, Ukrainian forces use MLRS M270, which has similar functionality to HIMARS.
The double benefit of lures
Using decoys that look like real weapons is not a new tactic. It is also used by the Russians themselves, for example, in inflatable models of the S-300 air defense system.
At the same time, military analysts believe that the benefit of using decoys from Ukraine is twofold. In a protracted artillery war, finding ways to destroy Russia’s larger arsenal of missiles and shells is critical for the smaller Ukrainian army.
U.S. defense officials believe Russia’s stockpile of missiles is running low, and U.S. controls on microchip exports are making it difficult to replenish those munitions. “The Kalibr missile fired at a mock HIMARS target in the field is a missile that cannot be used against a Ukrainian city,” said Rob Lee, a military analyst at the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies.
Another advantage of decoys is that they can force the Russians to take precautions and move their ammunition depots and command and control centers further from the front lines.
“Such a reorganization would reduce the Russians’ ability to deliver massed artillery fire, a tactic they have relied on to achieve success in eastern Ukraine,” said George Barros, a military researcher at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank. According to information from official sources, Ukraine has up to 25 GMLRS missile systems in service. Six MLRS M270s, three Mars IIs, and 16 highly mobile HIMARS systems.
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