S-400 Killer? Ukraine Says Russia’s ‘Billion Dollar’ Defense System Crumbling Against US HIMARS

A top Ukrainian official has claimed that Russia’s most advanced S-400 air defense system is unable to intercept rockets fired by the American-made M142 HIMARS multiple launch rocket system (MLRS).

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Anton Gerashchenko, the Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said in a tweet on July 11 that Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defense systems cannot intercept HIMARS rockets.

Gerashchenko did not provide any specifics relating to the failure of the S-400 system against the HIMARS rockets. Still, he said, “Russian Armed Forces, their ammunition and fuel warehouses are unprotected from the power of American weapons.”

Gerashchenko possibly referred to the series of Ukrainian attacks in recent days on several Russian arms depots in Donetsk, Lysychansk, and Kherson, etc., using the HIMARS MLRS system provided by the US.

Shortly before Gerashchenko made his claims, a Ukrainian portal reported that the S-400 could not shoot down a single HIMARS rocket either in Donbas, Zaporizhzhia, or Kherson regions.

Censor.NET reported that during an attack on a Russian military facility in Khartsyzk in Donetsk, a HIMARS rocket even destroyed the S-400 complex.

So far, there is no documented instance of the S-400 system deployed in Ukraine. In April, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have used its S-400 system to knock down a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter, 30 kilometers inside Ukraine’s Chernihiv region, close to the border with Russia.

S-400 firing a missile (via Twitter)

If true, the S-400 missile was most likely fired from within the Russian territory, as the operational missile range of the S-400 system is up to 400 kilometers, and the surveillance range is up to 600 kilometers.

Therefore, in the absence of any documented evidence of the S-400 system having been deployed or destroyed inside the Ukrainian territory, Gerashchenko’s claims could not be verified.

HIMARS Makes Pro-Kremlin Figures Nervous

Nevertheless, the HIMARS system has indeed come bearing gifts for Ukraine. In recent days Ukrainian forces have destroyed more than a dozen major Russian ammunition stockpiles and supplies using HIMARS rockets.

The effectiveness of HIMARS on the battlefield has made the pro-Kremlin figures so nervous that they have publicly voiced their concerns.

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For example, a former commander of Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, Igor Girkin, said on July 10 on the Telegram messaging app that “the Russian air defense systems, which relatively (very relatively) coped with attacks with the help of “Tochek-U” and “Uraganov” – turned out to be ineffective against massive strikes by Hymers (HIMARS) missiles.”

HIMARS - missile launched.jpg
M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) – Wikimedia Commons

More than 20 Russian ammunition depots in the Donbas region and Ukraine’s south, including some of the largest, have come under Ukrainian attacks, with some destroyed, according to Illia Ponomarenko, the defense and security reporter at the Kyiv Independent.

This recent wave of Ukrainian attacks has made the Russian forces feel the crunch in terms of munitions fuelling Russia’s artillery dominance in Donbas until now.

A Russian military bogger Andrey Morozov, also known as ‘Murz,’ was cited by Ponomarenko as saying that Russian troops were facing growing “munitions hunger,” as the number of 122- and 152-millimeter rounds are depleting due to recent Ukrainian attacks.

Impressed By HIMARS Precision

There have also been some eyewitness accounts, such as from Roman Saponkov, another Russian military blogger who is embedded with frontline Russian forces and was present during a HIMARS strike on Chernobaevka, Kherson, on July 9, which made quite an impression on him.

“As it happened yesterday, I watched the HIMARS strike on Chernobaevka, Kherson, almost before our eyes. I have been under fire many times, but I was struck that the package, 5 or 6 missiles, landed almost into a penny. Usually, MLRS fall over large areas and at maximum distance scatter in a fan-like manner,” Saponkov said on July 10 in a Telegram post.

“It is clear that this is just the beginning. They will hammer on Kherson and other border towns. Belgorod in particular. They will cover all checkpoints and military facilities, data on which have been collected over the past four months,” Saponkov continued.

However, as of now, the US has forbidden Ukraine to use HIMARS for strikes inside Russia; therefore, it is unlikely that HIMARS rockets would soon rain in on Belgorod.

So far, Ukraine has received eight HIMARS units, with four more expected to arrive in the country by the end of July.