In recent weeks, Western defensive weapons have helped Ukraine thwart Russia’s plans for a blitzkrieg by effectively halting the advance of its troops. The Russian military has already lost more than 9,000 vehicles, 120 helicopters, and 486 aircraft. Russia lost more than 100,000 men in the Ukraine invasion.
However, to drive Russian forces out of occupied Ukrainian territories, Kyiv urgently needs more offensive weapons. This would help Ukraine lift the blockade on the cities of Chernihiv, Sumy, Donetsk and Mariupol. And most importantly, it would save the lives of civilians held hostage by Russian troops. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky argued at the summit NATO, the alliance would only need to provide Ukraine with 1 per cent of its aircraft and tanks to help significantly in the effort to force Russian troops to withdraw.
It takes a few days to a week to learn to use Western-made tanks and self-propelled artillery units – less time than for any of these other systems. The most time-intensive programmes would be those to train fighter pilots – which can take several months. In any case, the war in Ukraine will almost certainly continue far longer than any such training programme.
So, what type of weapons Ukraine needs right now to drive Russia out of Ukraine, including Crimea? The weapons systems Ukraine needs most are as follows.
Saab Gripen C/D
Ukrainian soldiers and pilots proved their skills to adapt to Western technology as fast as possible. Gripen is designed and built on the basis that there will be no airfield for Sweden to fly Gripen aircraft. Hence Gripen can land, refuel, reload the weapons and take off from highways ideally suited for Ukraine. Armed with AIM-120 AMRAAM, RBS-15 anti-ship missiles, precision-guided bombs and IRIS-T missiles, Gripen is the right aircraft to kill Sukhoi Su-35 and MiG-31 Foxhound aircraft.
For offence, the Ukrainian Air Force could benefit from American A-10 attack aircraft. The U.S. Air Force no longer needs these systems, as it is procuring more advanced F-35. Ukrainian pilots could quickly learn how to fly A-10 and use them against poorly trained Russian conscripts struggling to drive tanks and armored vehicles.
300 km range ATACMS missile
The HIMARS carries one pod with either six GMLRS rockets or one ATACMS missile. It is based on the United States Army’s FMTV five-ton truck and can launch all rockets specified in the Multiple Launch Rocket System Family of Munitions (MFOM).
So far the U.S. has been conservative about transferring 300 km range ATACMS missile. ATACMS is a long-range guided missile that gives operational commanders the immediate firepower to win the deep battle. Each ATACMS missile is packaged in a MLRS look-alike launch pod and is fired from the MLRS Family of Launchers. With its improved GPS-guided 500 pounds blast fragmented warhead, ATACMS can destroy supply chains from Crimea and Belarus.
MIM-104 Patriot Missile
Poland’s defense minister has asked Germany to ship a Patriot surface-to-air missile defense system intended for Poland to Ukraine instead to help its defense against Russia’s invasion.
The offer follows a deadly missile blast in a Polish village last week that Warsaw believes may have been a stray Ukrainian air defense missile launched against a barrage of Russian strikes.
“I have asked Germany to send the Patriot system offered to Poland to Ukraine where it could be installed on their western border,” Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter late Wednesday.
“This would allow Ukraine to protect itself against more casualties and blackouts and reinforce the security of our eastern border,” he said.
Leopard and M1 Abrams Tanks
Currently, tank battles are taking place across the front line, including in some cities. The Russian military still has a significant numerical advantage in tanks, even though Ukrainian forces have rapidly destroyed many of them with anti-tank-guided missile systems.
German-made Leopard and American Abrams tanks would offer significant advantages over Russian tanks on the battlefield. Leopard and M1 Abrams would allow Ukraine to dominate the Eastern flanks of Ukraine. These tanks could significantly increase the offensive potential of Ukrainian ground forces.
Iron Dome Missiles
Experts said that Israel’s Iron Dome air defense, which boasts a great success rate against rockets fired against it, will stay out of Ukraine’s reach as Jerusalem seeks to maintain strategic relations with Russia in Syria and other hot spots.
In an official request submitted to Israel this week, the Ukrainian government asked for top air defense systems developed by Israel, some of which are not yet operational, according to the letter obtained by the Axios website.
They noted that Russia “has switched to new methods of armed aggression against Ukraine,” including Iranian drone attacks on civilian areas. Iron Dome could defeat Iranian drones and Russian artillery in Ukraine, saving countless civilian lives.
PzH-2000, Krab and HIMARS Artillery
As Russian forces are digging in and gradually moving to a war of attrition, artillery will play a key role in breaking through their lines with strikes on critical military facilities, such as command posts, ammunition dumps, and fuel depots. Therefore, the Ukrainian army would greatly benefit from more weapons such as PzH-2000 Artillery and Krab artilleries.
Ukraine has received at least 14 PzH 2000s donated from Germany, eight from the Netherlands and six from Italy. Kyiv furthermore plans to buy 100 more from manufacturer KMW using 1.7 billion euros in donated security assistance funding, but those will require time to build.
Other options are the US-made M270 multiple launch rocket system and M142 high mobility artillery rocket system. Today, the U.S. military has almost 1,500 units of these types. Such systems can use ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles, which have a range of up to 300km.
LORA Ballistic Missiles
LORA ballistic missiles played crucial roles in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict defeating Armenian military barracks, airfields and bunkers. Azerbaijan was the first and only confirmed country to which Israel delivered LORA missiles – in an arms deal that took place in 2018.
LORA (Long Range Attack) is a theatre quasi-ballistic missile made by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It can be launched from a ship or by land, with an operational range of 400 km. It accurately hits targets within ten meters and strikes within ten minutes after launch.
Spike LR Missiles
Spike is an Israeli fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile and anti-personnel missile with a tandem-charge high-explosive anti-tank warhead. As of 2007, it is in its fourth generation. It was developed and designed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
This missile is also available with a multipurpose blast warhead which is effective against buildings, bunkers and field fortifications. It can breach up to 200 mm of reinforced concrete and detonate within the structure. The Spike LR missile can decimate Russian ground forces in the battlefield.
Air Defense System
Another important way to help Ukraine establish control of the airspace is to supply it with advanced air defence equipment. The Norwegian NASAMS, German IRIS-T, Avengers. Stinger and RBS-70 would be great assets to counter Russian attacks.
Given that the West refuses to secure Ukraine’s airspace by establishing a no-fly zone, it will need to strengthen Ukrainian air defences enough for the country to do so without the direct involvement of NATO personnel.
One option could be to provide Ukraine with US-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles, which are currently in service with more than a dozen NATO countries. According to some sources, the U.K. has agreed to send Harpoon missiles to Ukraine.
Ukraine has recently developed its anti-ship missile – the Neptune – but it only has a few of this type and the systems that fire it. Anti-ship missiles have already proven their effectiveness: on 13 April, the Ukrainian military used the Neptune to destroy the Moskva. This missile cruiser was the flagship of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. Therefore, Harpoon missiles will be able to significantly affect the balance of power in the Black Sea region.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
These systems can also help negate Russia’s aerial advantage in Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has repeatedly used Turkish Bayraktar UAVs to destroy Russian air defence systems, tanks, and other armoured vehicles. However, Ukraine only has a few dozen of these UAVs, which is not enough for it to use them effectively on all fronts. The West could build up Ukraine’s UAV fleet with its own systems, such as the United States’ new MQ-9 Reaper or the MQ-1 Predator, which the U.S. military has already decommissioned.
Armoured personnel carriers can markedly increase the mobility and manoeuvrability of territorial defence forces, thereby reducing the number of casualties they suffer. The U.S. could provide the Ukrainian military with more M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and Humvee armoured vehicles. These vehicles can be equipped with anti-tank systems, such as the US-made Javelin, which the Ukrainian military has used to great effect.
Other military equipment
To coordinate the offensive, the Ukrainian military will need secure means of communication, such as a secure data link. Elon Musk’s Starlink has played a vital role in keeping Ukraine’s military and citizens online as the war continues to rage throughout Ukraine.
It will also need night vision devices in great numbers. This would allow for offensive operations at night, mainly effective against Russian troops lacking such devices. Belgium-made precision assault weapons such as FN SCAR, FN EVOLYS 7.62 and American-made M4 carbine would suit Ukraine to counter the close-quarter battle against Russian forces.
A prolonged confrontation would help Russia regroup, increase its military strength, and adapt to sanctions. The quicker Ukraine receives more military support from its allies, the greater its chances of driving Russian forces out of its territory.
In conclusion, Russia’s war of attrition results in hundreds of civilian casualties daily. This is why the Ukrainian military needs to seize the initiative to counterattack across the front line and deep inside Russia. Western supplies of offensive weapons can turn the tide of the conflict in Ukraine’s favour. After all, one cannot win a war through defense alone.
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