Ukraine Deploys ATACMS for the First Time in Battle Against Russian Occupiers
On the night of October 17, during a nocturnal assault on the airports in the occupied territories of Berdiansk and Luhansk, the Armed Forces of Ukraine employed ATACMS missiles for the first time. The use of these missiles was confirmed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his evening video address.
"I thank everyone who is fighting and working for Ukraine! I thank everyone who is helping! And today, special gratitude to the United States of America. Our agreements with President Joe Biden are being fulfilled. They are being fulfilled quite accurately—ATACMS missiles have proven themselves," said Zelensky.
In the early hours of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces struck two airbases in the Russian-occupied territories. These were the first strikes using the weapon known as ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System of significant range), which President Biden had been reluctant to provide to Ukraine, fearing it might escalate the conflict with Russia.
The deal was revived during Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to the White House in September. At that time, the U.S. President agreed to provide the missiles, albeit in a limited-range version, according to officials familiar with the conversation. The readiness to deliver the missiles was announced by the Pentagon in early October.
The version of the ATACMS missile sent to the Ukrainians, according to officials, is equipped with cluster munitions—warheads smaller in size but capable of causing damage over a large area.
The fact of the attack on Russian airbases in the occupied territories was confirmed in a Telegram channel of Ukraine's Special Operations Forces.
"The Special Operations Forces received information about the enemy's use of airfields in the temporarily occupied Berdiansk and Luhansk, as well as the presence of a significant amount of aviation and special equipment and munitions on them. The provided information was verified and confirmed. Coordinates and necessary data were transmitted for striking the units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces. As a result of the fire strike on the night of October 16-17, the occupiers suffered significant losses," the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces reported.
According to the latest information, in Berdiansk and Luhansk, the following were destroyed:
- Nine helicopters of various modifications.
- Special equipment located on the airbases.
- An air defense missile launcher.
- An ammunition depot.
- Runways at the airbases were damaged.
Russian military Telegram channels also report substantial losses in aviation equipment and personnel.
ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) is an American high-precision operational-tactical ballistic missile system designed to engage ground targets. Depending on the modification, it can target objectives from 165 to 300 kilometers away.