Ukraine touts role of US HARM missiles in attacks on Russian defenses

The Ukrainian Air Force says it is successfully using a US-provided radar missile system to breach Russian air defenses when conducting strikes on the invading military.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat, in a nationwide broadcast, highlighted what he called the service department’s effective use of the high-velocity anti-radiation missile (HARM) against Russia. The weapon is designed to destroy radar-equipped air defense systems. Ihnat said they are increasing support for Ukrainian ground forces as the Pentagon has promised more HARM missiles for Ukraine.

Developed in the 1980s, the tactical air-to-surface missile is “designed to seek out and destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems,” according to a US Air Force data sheet, and operates by locking on to enemy radar.

Ihnat said that “more than one such air defense system was destroyed by these missiles”, allowing Ukrainian Air Force attack aircraft, including the Su-25 attack aircraft and Su-24M bombers, to blitz Russian forces.

Soldier with a HARM missile
Weapons technician Anthony Toliver secures a high-velocity anti-radiation missile (HARM) at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey on January 14, 1999. The Pentagon said Thursday it would supply more HARM missiles to Ukraine in its war with Russia.
Usaf/Getty Images

“With the support of artillery and other units, our ground forces can advance more confidently in the direction in which the battles to liberate our country are currently being fought,” he said.

Colin Kahl, Secretary of State for Defense Policy, first confirmed during a news conference in August that the US had supplied Ukraine with HARM missiles in previous security packages.

The Pentagon on Thursday unveiled a $675 million security package for Ukraine that includes additional HARM missiles and more ammunition and other military equipment.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, describing the package during a news conference Thursday, said the US would focus on the dynamics of the conflict and help Ukraine get “a step or two ahead.”

Ukrainian forces are in the midst of a counter-offensive aimed at retaking the Russian-held city of Kherson and other surrounding areas in southern Ukraine. Military and others have pointed to early successes in the counteroffensive, making surprising advances in Russian-held territory near Kharkiv in north-eastern Ukraine.

US Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said during the briefing that “we are seeing real and measurable gains from Ukraine” from previous military aid packages.

Included in the pack are more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a system that can be easily transported and used to engage Russian targets behind enemy lines. Milley said Ukrainian forces have attacked over 400 targets with US-supplied HIMARS.

“And they were devastating,” Milley said. “Russian communication routes and supply channels are heavily loaded. This has a direct impact on the Russian ability to project and maintain combat power. Russian command and control and headquarters were disrupted. And they are having great difficulty in resupplying their forces and replacing their combat losses.”

news week has asked the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense for an opinion. Ukraine touts role of US HARM missiles in attacks on Russian defenses

Rick Schindler

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