For the past few days, Ukraine has been urging MLRS (for Multiple Launch Rocket System, “Multiple rocket launchers”) to be able to retaliate against Russian artillery and try to stop the advance of Moscow forces. Mykhail Podoliak, Adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency, wrote it on Twitter on May 27th.
The United States has heard his call. “I have decided that we will provide Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and ammunition that will allow them to hit more accurately major targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”wrote President Joe Biden, in a forum published in the New York Times, Tuesday, May 31st.
Range up to 80 kilometers
Ukraine has a number of RM-70 multiple rocket launcher provided by the Czech Republic, but these are “Cold War” systems fired from standard Soviet 122 mm rockets. The weapons promised by Joe Biden are a qualitative leap, even if Kiev does not receive the most advanced system in the US military.
Les M142 Himars that will be sent by the United States are a “light” version of the M270. The latter is a multiple rocket launcher mounted on the chassis of a crawler armored vehicle developed in the 1970s by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy to counterbalance numerical superiority. of the Russian army in Europe. The M142, on the other hand, is a modernized, lightweight version mounted on an armored truck – therefore more mobile – of the MLRS. Developed in the 1990s, it entered service in the 2000s.
Both systems can fire different types of ammunition: six (for the M142) to twelve (for the M270) 227 mm GPS-guided ammunition with a range of up to about 80 kilometers. They can also fire a surface-to-surface missile called ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) with a range of 300 kilometers.
But in his text, Joe Biden insists that these weapons be used only on the Ukrainian battlefield. That is why Washington will not deliver ATACMS missiles capable of reaching Russia. Indeed, since the beginning of the invasion, the United States has wanted to avoid taking action that could be seen as a provocation by Moscow, and so that the conflict does not slip. “We will not send rocket systems to Ukraine that could strike inside Russia.”said Joe Biden to reporters Monday morning.
Above all, the Missile Technology Control Regime (RCTM)a voluntary international arms control pact in which the United States and Ukraine are taking part, prevents potential ATACMS missile transfers, recalls the site The War Zone.
A “myth” during the Gulf War
The M270 MLRS was first used during Operation Desert Storm, launched in 1991 by a US-led international coalition and commissioned by the United Nations to end the occupation of Kuwait by the United States. ‘Iraq.
In a report submitted in 1992 by the Department of Defense in Congressthe Pentagon claimed they had “A huge psychological impact on Iraqi soldiers.” Enemy soldiers were terrified by its destructive force, which they sometimes called “steel rain”. But the New York Times largely tempered this “Myth”claiming that no Iraqi prisoners had mentioned “Steel rain”. “Steel Rain” is the nickname he adopted the artillery unit then deployed in Iraq.
No matter, the “legend” persists, as evidenced by a forum published in 2016 in the Washington Post by Robert Scales. The retired American general praised Russia’s thermobaric weapons and regretted that previous US administrations had abandoned the multiple rocket launchers, the “Steel rain”on behalf of “Politically correct”.
In reality, the US military has never stopped using these weapons. During the Iraq War (2003-2011), they were used, reports a military blog. In Afghanistan, instead of the M270, it is deploying Himars. Their presence is mentioned for the first time in 2007during the failed removal attempt of a Al-Qaeda Libyan fighterthen in 2010 in the Kandahar region, reports the New York Times. General Nick Carter, the British commander of the NATO coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, quoted by the American daily, explains that“They are extraordinarily accurate; to the nearest meter ».
Temporarily removed from the battlefield
Yet, despite the accuracy touted by the British general, in 2010, two rockets launched by Himars miss their target and kill ten civilians. These weapons are temporarily removed from the battlefield. In 2015, the Himars are back deployed in Iraqthis time against the Islamic State organization : their presence is evoked during a Pentagon briefing.
The US military regularly has its “rotating” in Europe artillery units with Himarswhile the Polandwhich already has a few multiple rocket launchers, has placed an additional order, announced Mariusz Blaszczak, the Polish Minister of Defense, May 26. Romania is also equipped with.
For Ukrainian gunners, training on the use of these rocket launchers would take about two weeks, military officials told CNN. They will have to beware of the retorts of Russian gunners, who also have multiple rocket launchers, the BM-21 Grad, BM-27 Hurricane and 9A52-4 Tornado, in service in the Russian army, and whose use is documented by the independent site Oryx.
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