The Pentagon Monday announced $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, the single largest package of weapons and equipment from its inventories since Russia’s February invasion.
The latest assistance package includes anti-radar missiles for Ukrainian aircraft to target Russian radar systems, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told reporters on Monday.
Colin Kahl said at a press briefing that the US had sent “a number” of the missiles without specifying how many the US has provided or when they were sent. Kahl did not explicitly say what type of anti-radiation missile was sent.
Russian Telegram channels are posting online photos which reportedly show the debris left by an AGM-88E High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile after it struck a Russian Surface to Air Missile site in Ukraine. The first photo shows the debris in a field, with the bent sheet metal and two of the forward fins scattered on the ground, while the second photo shows one of the rear fins with the stenciled codes clearly readable.
Shortly before that, Russia’s state media claimed that Russian Soldiers had found the wreckage of a U.S.-made AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile, or HARM, on their position following a Ukrainian missile strike.
AGM-88E HARM in Ukraine
Three NATO aircraft types are capable of employing the AGM-88 in Europe: the Tornado ECR, the F-16CM Block 50 and the F/A-18-EA-18G. The Tornado is not taking part in any CAP mission, as their specialization is the air-to-ground role. The F-16CM-50 from Spangdahlem, Germany, are the only US Wild Weasel unit forward-based in Europe and flew their CAPs with a full load of six air-to-air missiles, which does not leave space for AGM-88s. The F/A-18s and the EA-18Gs are also only flying with air-to-air missiles.
The AGM-88 HARM is an air-to-surface passive sensor missile designed to seek and destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems.
It is being reported that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence Oleksiy Reznikov is being quoted saying to the press that unspecified anti-radiation missiles are being delivered to Ukraine: “We will get special anti-radar missiles that we did not have before. This will allow you and I to effectively destroy their radar system, essentially blinding the enemy, which will give us the opportunity to gain an advantage for a counteroffensive.”
Many suggest that these missiles may have been integrated on upgraded Ukrainian fighter jets. However, even if many MiG-29s in Europe have been upgraded to be compatible with NATO standards, this doesn’t mean that the aircraft is ready to use the AGM-88 HARM. Integrating the missile on the MiG-29 doesn’t simply mean strapping a LAU-118A launcher and the AGM-88 missile to the MiG’s pylons, there is a lot more work that needs to be done to integrate them into the avionics and electrical systems.
Another possibility could be a ground-based launcher for the AGM-88, of which a concept was presented by Northrop Grumman a few years ago. However, the such containerized system did not go past the concept phase. Thus, the way the missile was eventually employed in Ukraine remains unknown.
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