Russia Claims Breakthrough With ATACMS; Says Decoded ‘Complex’ U.S. Missiles Haunting The Military

Russian experts have reportedly comprehensively analyzed the intricate structure of the American Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile — a discovery that may have significant consequences for the current conflict in Ukraine.

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The Russian media outlet Ria Novosti, citing an unnamed weapons expert, claimed that the structure of the ATACMS missile had been fully analyzed, leaving “no secrets left” regarding its functionality.

The United States began supplying Ukraine with the mid-range variant of the ATACMS missiles last fall. The long-range version, capable of hitting targets up to 300 kilometers away, was sent to Ukraine in April.

Since their deployment, the ATACMS missiles have been highly effective, targeting and destroying key Russian assets, including logistics hubs and advanced defense systems like the S-400.

A few days ago, Moscow began an in-depth study of this weapon, aiming to uncover its critical capabilities and potential countermeasures.

On July 2, Russian state media pointed out that specialists had fully examined the complex and multi-component fuse of the missile. The outlet also published a video for the first time showing the internal structure of the ATACMS rocket.

The expert explained, “This warhead was developed for an anti-ship missile and later installed on the ATACMS. We neutralized the fuse. An intermediate detonator is installed on it.”

He elaborated that the fuse case, once opened, reveals a sophisticated mechanism capable of various settings based on mission requirements.

The expert added that the fuse is set to a firing position, marked by the letter ‘A’ visible in a special window. It employs a long-range cocking mechanism with a movable pendulum that activates itself after a certain period.

“Also, in the inner part, there is a rotary engine, which closes the internal circuit of the fuse. The system is duplicated. Four detonator primers were installed. The main way to start the mechanism is on magnetic elements,” the expert explained.

This complex design is intended to ensure the missile’s safe use. Russian experts have thoroughly studied the fuse, and according to one weapons expert, “There are no secrets left for us in it.”

ATACMS missile fuse in the hands of a Russian specialist.

In addition to the fuse, Russian specialists have reportedly, for the first time, gained access to the ATACMS flight guidance and correction system.

The warheads feature a guidance system with three laser ring gyroscopes, which maintain the missile on a precise ballistic trajectory. The system is equipped with a GPS antenna that adjusts the missile’s trajectory at the beginning and end of its journey.

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Will It Help To Counter ATACMS? 

This detailed understanding of the ATACMS missile could potentially alter the dynamics of the battlefield, providing Russia with the knowledge needed to counter one of Ukraine’s most effective long-range weapons.

Russian experts believe that a study of the missile allows them to identify its critical capabilities. For instance, analyzing the missile’s maneuvering abilities will help determine which anti-aircraft missiles it can evade and which it cannot.

This study could also provide insights into the missile’s accuracy and how it might be affected by electronic interference. By understanding these aspects, Moscow can figure out how to alter the missile’s performance, potentially causing errors that prevent it from reaching its intended target. The objective was to pinpoint these essential details to assess their impact on the trajectory of the missile.

Viktor Litovkin, a retired Russian Army colonel and military analyst, told the state-owned news agency, “Firstly, [Russian] designers will analyze the whole bulk of data and find out how the missile flies… how it is directed to the target, whether it is guided by GPS, satellites, or heavy drones…They will find out its weaknesses and strengths.”

After analyzing the situation, Russian specialists will offer suggestions to the military on enhancing interception tactics using anti-aircraft missile systems or improving electronic warfare capabilities to disrupt the missile. Specifically, they might advise on methods to disrupt the missile’s communication or disable its GPS.

An ATACMS being launched by an M270 (Wikipedia)

Litovkin also suggested that this analysis would enable the Russian military to detect launch sites and missile locations more quickly. He stressed that the West should recognize the superiority of Russian weapons and countermeasures over Western military technology.

“The West should know that all its efforts have been in vain, that Russian weapons and Russian countermeasures are much more effective than its tanks, missiles, and guns. This is a signal to the whole world, not just the West, that Western weapons are no match for Russian arms,” the retired Russian colonel concluded.

The coming weeks may reveal how this newfound information will impact the ongoing conflict.