May 30, 2024

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“ATACMS”: What are these new long-range missiles that the US gave to Ukraine?

“ATACMS”: What are these new long-range missiles that the US gave to Ukraine?

Will their bowling swing the clash towards Russia? The US sent long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine “this month”, the State Department announced on Wednesday, before the US Congress approved new aid to Kyiv on Tuesday.

“This shipment was made at the direct request of President Joe Biden” in February, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, adding that the missiles, which were part of the latest aid package sent by Ukraine on March 12, “arrived in Ukraine. This month.”

The inclusion of the missiles in that March package was not announced at the time, “in order to maintain operational security at the request of Ukraine,” the spokesman said.

300 km

Placed on the market in 1991, these missiles were widely used in the Gulf War and later during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and are being gradually replaced by the “precision strike missile” model.

ATACMS missiles, also known as MGM-140 and pronounced “Attack'ms” by American soldiers, were eagerly anticipated by Volodymyr Zelensky's soldiers. For good reason, they have a longer range than any missile Ukraine has ever had. In some versions the ATACMS missile has a range of 300 km. Ukraine can easily reach tricky sites.

Risk of escalation of conflict

Their arrival at the front marks a major turning point. In July 2022, US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan expressed his opposition to such a delivery, fearing it would push Russia to escalate the conflict.

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As of 2022, Ukraine has rocket launchers capable of firing ATACMS missiles, M142 HIMARS. However, according to Wall Street Journal revelations, the Pentagon modified these rocket launchers before sending them to Kyiv so that they could not fire long-range missiles.

Ukraine first used US ATACMS missiles against Russia in October, but recent deployments have been longer-range.