Ukraine uses wooden decoy missile trucks to waste Russian missiles
Ukraine is using wooden dummies to defend its US-made Himars missiles.
The fake kit has been hit by Russian missiles, which are increasingly in short supply, as actual M142 High Mobility Rocket Systems (Himars) support plans for a promised counteroffensive.
Washington has sent 16 Himars to Ukraine, which include an armoured truck with six GPS-guided 227mm rockets bolted onto a flatbed trailer. The rockets exceed speeds of Mach 3, or 3,700km per hour, at a range of 80km (although this is reportedly an underestimate) with an 80kg warhead.
Himars launch rockets at a target and quickly drive away to a safe place.
The GPS enables the missiles to land within 3 metres of a target, Washington claims.
Kyiv is trying to reduce the disparity with Russia’s weapons stockpiles.
Russia has several years of artillery munitions available, Britain’s Royal United Services Institute reported in August. It said Russia is firing around 20,000 shells per day compared with the 6,000 being fired by Ukrainian forces.
Himars have reportedly hit Russian fuel depots, headquarters, air-defence batteries, other key targets and communications networks. Russian troops far from the front are now aware they are at risk, Ukraine says.
Russian military losses form the backdrop to the counteroffensive to retake southern Ukraine.
Moscow’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu has said that hitting Himars is a high priority.
The location of the trucks is kept secret in eastern Ukraine with little fanfare on social media and they are normally used at night.
The Washington Post reported that full-size wooden decoys are regularly deployed and have been hit by at least 10 3M-14 Kalibr land-attack cruise subsonic, precision-guided missiles. They are launched from submarines and ships in the Black Sea and cost the Russian authorities approximately US$1.2 million each. As the Ukraine war becomes more attritional, resupply of precision weaponry is becoming a key challenge for both sides.
Retired US lieutenant general Mark Hertling said in July that the 16 Himars trucks sent to Ukraine could fire around 192 missiles a day, firing a year’s production in less than two months.
The Himars’ M31 rockets are made by Lockheed Martin and are far more complex than the trucks that launch them. Each missile contains a complex computer with chips, antennas and processors built to exacting standards to survive the high speeds.
Himars trucks. Picture credit: Wikimedia