S-300 air defense was used in Ukraine against five ground targets

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Today’s report from iStories, an independent Russian news agency, reveals that the Russian army has deployed the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system against ground targets. This news comes via their renowned Vajniye Novosti [Important News] website. 

Photo credit: AFP

Interestingly, this isn’t the first instance that the S-300 system has been utilized for ground offensives in the ongoing Ukraine conflict. A case in point is back in July 2022, when the Governor of Mykolaiv Oblast, Vitaly Kim, alerted the world about the frequent ‘missile attacks’ from Russian forces via his X account [previously known as Twitter]. He went on to mention that the Russians were making adept use of modified S-300 missiles, which were equipped with GPS navigators to target ground positions. 

Digging deeper into the past, one can trace back the use of the S-300 against terrestrial targets to 2017. As disclosed by Russian sources, the S-300 was employed by Russia’s Eastern Military District troops during a military drill in the Khabarovsk region. During that exercise, the missile system was used to take out simulated ground military vehicles.

How does it work?

With S-300 certain modifications and adaptations, it is possible to utilize the system to engage ground targets as well. One way to achieve this is by reconfiguring the system’s radar and software algorithms to detect and track ground-based threats instead of aerial ones. By adjusting the parameters and algorithms, the system can be programmed to identify and engage ground targets, such as vehicles or personnel, effectively.

Another approach is by modifying the missiles used in the system. To engage ground targets, the missiles can be equipped with different warheads, such as blast fragmentation or armor-piercing warheads, which are more suitable for engaging ground-based threats. Additionally, the missile’s guidance system may need to be adjusted to optimize its trajectory and accuracy when targeting ground objects.

Photo credit: Reddit

Furthermore, integrating additional sensors and equipment into the S-300 system can enhance its ability to engage ground targets. For instance, incorporating ground surveillance radars or electro-optical sensors can provide the system with improved situational awareness of the ground environment.

A hole in the sky

Reports suggest that Ukraine has resorted to using the older Soviet S-200 air defense system to counteract Russian ground targets. Before the outbreak of the conflict, Ukraine boasted about a hundred S-300 batteries, a legacy from the Soviet era. However, there were claims that until 2014, these systems hadn’t received the requisite maintenance. That situation changed when Russia launched its campaign against Ukraine in the Donbas region, impelling Ukraine to ramp up the upkeep of these systems from that point forward. 

Ukraine also possesses the capability to tweak its S-300 systems to be effective against ground targets. The quandary, however, lies in the quantity. For Russia, such modifications are affordable due to the hundreds of such systems at their disposal. Conversely, since the onset of the conflict, Ukraine, based on reports, has suffered significant losses from its S-300 systems. 

Photo credit: TASS

In an illustration of the dilemma, Ukrainian reserve colonel Oleg Zhdanov explains, “If we start modifying the S-300 missiles and launch them as surface-to-surface, we’ll be left with a hole in the sky”.

The S-300 attack on November 29

Reports emerging on November 30 recount the Russian offensive on Ukrainian soil that took place the day before, deploying the formidable S-300 ground missiles. We are here to share the details of this disturbing event, as described by Ukraine’s National Police. 

In a synchronized assault, the Russian military launched six missiles from their S-300 arsenal toward Pokrovsk, Novogradovka, and Mirnograd in the Donetsk region. Tragically, the fallout from the bombardment resulted in 10 casualties, including four children, and an emergency search and rescue operation for five additional individuals feared trapped beneath the debris. 

Pokrovsk bore the brunt of the assault. A family of two children, a 16-year-old and a mere 6-month-old infant, were among the victims, caught and buried below the rubble. A 13-year-old boy also sustained injuries in this attack. The town was extensively damaged, with a residential block, nine individual houses, a police station, and multiple cars and garages bearing the marks of the assault, as revealed by Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

The town of Novogradovka also experienced devastation as a missile struck a high-rise residential building, injuring another 13-year-old child in the process. The scene remains active, with police and the State Emergency Service dedicatedly working to ensure the area is secure. Five possible survivors, including a child, are suspected to be trapped, intensifying the ongoing search and rescue operation. In Mirnograd, a police station bore the brunt of the Russian attack.

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