March 22, 2023

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Three weapons that changed the course of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Three weapons that changed the course of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Three weapons that changed the course of Russia’s war in Ukraine

(CNN) — When Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his forces into Ukraine a year ago, most observers expected a quick victory for the invaders.

Those early predictions of Russian success have not materialized and experts cite a variety of factors for that, including higher morale and superior military tactics on the Ukrainian side, but also, crucially, Western weaponry supplies .


While recent headlines have placed much emphasis on the potential for Western main battle tanks or Patriot air defense systems to influence the outcome of the war, these systems have yet to be used in combat in Ukraine.

But there are other weapons that have already helped turn the tide of war. Here are three keys that the Ukrainians have used to devastating effect.

Javelin missiles

At the start of the war, fighters on both sides expected Russian armored columns to start arriving in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in a matter of days.

Ukrainian forces fire a Javelin anti-tank missile during exercises at a training camp in 2022.

The Ukrainians needed something to dampen that attack, and they found it in the form of Javelin projectiles, a shoulder-fired guided anti-tank missile that can be deployed by a single person.

Part of its appeal lies in its ease of use, as manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which co-developed the missile with Raytheon, explains: “To fire, the gunner places a cursor over the selected target. The commando Javelin launch unit then sends a pre-launch lock signal to the missile.”

Javelins are a “fire and forget” weapon. As soon as your operator takes the shot, you can run for cover while the missile finds its way to the target.

This was particularly important in the early days of the war, as the Russians tended to stay in columns when trying to enter urban areas. A Javelin operator could fire from a building or behind a tree and disappear before the Russians could return fire.

Javelins are also good at targeting the weak point of Russian tanks, their horizontal surfaces, because their trajectory after launch causes them to curve upward and then fall on the target from above, according to Lockheed Martin.

This is how soldiers are trained to handle Leopard 2 and Challenger 2 tanks3:07

This could be seen in early war footage of Russian tanks with their turrets blown off. Often, it was a Javelin that had done the damage.

In fact, the impact of the Javelins was so great that two and a half months after the war began, US President Joe Biden visited the Alabama plant where they are made to praise the workforce for your help in the defense of Ukraine.

“They make a gigantic difference to these poor sons of guns who are under such enormous pressure and firepower,” Biden said at the time.

There was another advantage to the Javelins, particularly pertinent at the start of the war: they were politically acceptable.

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“Their low cost and defensive use make them politically easier for other countries to provide,” Michael Armstrong, an associate professor at Brock University in Ontario, wrote in the conversation. “On the contrary, governments do not agree to send more expensive attack weapons like fighter jets.”


The full name given by the US Army is the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). It is “a combat-proven, all-weather, 24/7, lethal, and responsive, full-spectrum, wheeled precision strike weapon system,” the US Army says.

To put it more clearly, HIMARS is a 5-ton truck carrying a pod that can launch six rockets almost simultaneously, sending its explosive warheads far beyond the front lines of the battlefield and then rapidly changing position to avoid a counterattack. .