Reeling from an incessant aerial attack by the Russians, the Ukrainian Air Force has offered the first glance into the operation of the US-origin MIM-23 Hawk Air Defense system that first arrived in the country last year.
The video showing one of the Hawk systems in action was initially uploaded on October 23 by the Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleshchuk, on his official Telegram channel. It was subsequently shared on social media and has since gone viral, with military watchers lauding the system.
“Achieving a 100% success rate is not easy, but we are committed to approaching it daily, strengthening our air defense. Western weaponry has proven and continues to prove its effectiveness in battle,” Oleshchuk stated in his Telegram channel on October 23.
He underlined that this technology is essential to protecting Ukrainian airspace, working in tandem with the more advanced anti-aircraft missile systems with which Ukraine’s partners have armed it. He also appreciated the air defenders for their quick learning curve and their hard work in completing their training on these new systems.
The video was also uploaded on the official account of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD), which also noted that the. Ukrainian Air Forces destroyed 13 UAVs, Shahed-136/131, and 1 cruise missile, Kh-59, overnight. It proudly declared in the caption accompanying the video that the American Hawk System protects the Ukrainian sky.
The 🇺🇸 HAWK air defense system protects the 🇺🇦 sky.
Overnight, Ukrainian Air Forces destroyed 13 UAVs «Shahed-136/131» and 1 cruise missile Kh-59.
📹: The Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force Mykola Oleshchuk. pic.twitter.com/rW5b2i3lte
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) October 23, 2023
The nighttime footage features the launch of two Hawk missiles. Although they appear to have detonated at very low altitudes, it is uncertain if they could neutralize their targets. As can be seen in the video below, a sizable cloud of shrapnel and debris is visible when the second missile explodes, which happens significantly closer to the camera than the first one.
With the footage being widely shared, some military watchers and netizens who ardently follow the war updates emphasized that the “Ukrainian air defense turned the Russian target into scrap metal.”
A US 🇺🇸 MIM-23 Hawk Air Defense System shooting down likely Russian fired Shahed Kamikaze Drones overnight today in Ukraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/FR4K3lXUKd
— Ukraine Battle Map (@ukraine_map) October 23, 2023
The Telegram post did not specify the location where the system was recorded or what target was exactly shot down by the Hawk missile. Some OSINT and weapon tracking accounts on Platform X speculated that the target was likely a Shahed-136 kamikaze drone. EurAsian Times could not independently confirm these claims.
The video has been published amid a constant barrage of missiles and UAVs unleashed on Ukraine by the Russian forces. A recently published report in local Ukrainian media stated that the Russian troops have launched more than 300 cruise missiles, 14 ballistic missiles, and almost 400 Shahed attack UAVs on the capital, Kyiv, in the last 12 months.
Over the past 12 months, Russian forces have launched more than 300 cruise missiles of various types, 14 ballistic missiles and almost 400 Shahed attack UAVs at Kyiv.https://t.co/Mm7EQgaWrl
— The New Voice of Ukraine (@NewVoiceUkraine) October 24, 2023
Russia has intensified its aerial onslaught on Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine. According to the reports in the Ukrainian media, the Ukrainian Air Force issued an air-raid alert in many locations of the country on October 23, the same day that the video of the Hawk was published.
HAWK Air Defense Systems In Ukraine
In October last year, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg announced that Spain was providing Ukraine with four HAWK missile launchers. At the time, reports also quoted US officials as saying they were “considering” sending older Hawk systems “from storage” to help Ukraine “defend against Russian drone and cruise missile attacks.”
At the time, the Raytheon MIM-23 HAWK was considered the precursor to the Patriot missile defense system, which has since been delivered to Ukraine and deployed with a high degree of success. Military analysts have noted that, unlike the more advanced Patriots and IRIS-T crucial for shooting advanced Russian missiles, the Hawk can take down expendable and cheap kamikaze drones deployed by Moscow.
In February of this year, Sweden also declared its intention to provide Ukraine with some parts of its I-Hawk systems, also referred to as RBS 97s in that nation. Since 2015, some of Sweden’s RBS 97s have been undergoing modernization.
The US has also promised to provide Hawk systems to Ukraine. According to reports, these will be updated initially in some capacity as a part of the failed FrankenSAM air defense program by the United States for Ukraine. Although the precise origin of these systems is unknown, it’s possible that some of the recently retired Hawks from Taiwan, or parts of them, as well as those remaining in storage in the US, are the source.
The medium-range air defense system was inducted into the US Army in 1960 and, subsequently, the US Marine Corps (USMC). The platform was repeatedly modernized and served with the US Army until 1994 and the Marine Corps until 2002. Japan and Iran also operated the system in the US.
It has since undergone several modernization programs. It has three generations: Phase I, II, and III. The air defense system’s initial variants could reach heights of 14 kilometers and a range of up to 25 kilometers. Following modernization, there is a maximum target interception range of 40 kilometers and a maximum interception height of 18.
Following the announcement of the system’s delivery, a Ukrainian military statement came close to the above kinematic figures. It said, “Initially, the system was developed to destroy aircraft. Later, it was finalized to intercept missiles. The first versions of the system had a range of 25 kilometers for aerial targets and an altitude of 14 kilometers. After modernization, the maximum target interception range increased to 40 kilometers with a maximum interception altitude of 18 kilometers.”
Although the arrival of the Hawk was announced late last year, the recently published video has established that a variety of Hawk systems are currently in use in Ukraine, providing a significant boost to the country’s medium-range surface-to-air missile capacity.
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