Could Ukraine’s anti-tank missiles hamper a Russian invasion?

We explain how they work, and where they would be most effective

1/21/2022 8:56:00 PM

We explain how they work, and where they would be most effective

They could make it harder for Russia’s army to enter cities, but they won’t halt it

. “We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armour defensive weapons systems,” announced Ben Wallace, Britain’s defence minister, later that day. Photographs from Ukraine showed the planes stuffed full of Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs), an Anglo-Swedish anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).

The Economist todayHandpicked stories, in your inboxA daily newsletter with the best of our journalismSign upAccording to Mr Wallace’s deputy, Britain had dispatched “thousands” of these. America started sending Ukraine its own Javelin ATGMs in 2018 and in December approved an additional $200m package of arms, including more Javelins. This month it also gave permission for Estonia to send more. How do anti-tank missiles work—and can they stop a

Read more: The Economist »

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These Russian Gen 5 jets will take out Ukrainian tanks from miles away. NATO is having a wet dream and they’re a little old for that, ey? You shouldn’t have woken the sleeping BEAR 🇷🇺. EU liberal leftist tyrants circle jerked a bit too early, ey? Oye! Just want to say a very big thank you to Mrs lisamiabtc3 and her company platform for their transparency, I had doubts at first but seeing I got paid I deemed it necessary to share with the general public and to let them know that you can be truly trusted..thank you so much.

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UK may send MORE weapons to Ukraine after 'increasingly threatening behaviour' from RussiaBRITAIN may send more weapons to Ukraine in a bid to stop an impending Russian invasion, as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced the UK is open to further cooperation with the Eastern European nation. Don’t you mean increasingly threatening UK/US/NATO behaviour?

Ukraine tension: President Zelensky hits back at Biden commentsWith more evidence of troops on the Ukrainian border, how will Nato respond to the biggest threat to Europe in decades? Newsnight Diplomatic Editor MarkUrban01 reports 👇 MarkUrban01 KirstyWark esmewren 'The NewsNight Wall'; its just a screen in the studio, nothing remarkable. Also, why omit 'British'? Not: 'UK Weapons' 'UK Army'. .. it is: British Weapons, The British Army, Passports, Border, Identity, Law. United Kingdom of Great Britain & N.Ireland. MarkUrban01 Direct route London to Kyiv 2152 km 2345 that's 23 minutes of flight time and avoids the most congested air space. Think this is being made far too much of. MarkUrban01 You lot wanted senile Biden to be leader of the free world so now you can reap the rewards.

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US accuses Russia of conspiring to take over Ukraine governmentTreasury imposes sanctions on four current and former Ukraine government officials it says involved in alleged conspiracy

Tens of thousands could die if Russia goes to war with Ukraine, minister warnsFormer Army officer James Heappey said tens of thousands of people could die if Russia launches an attack on Ukraine. He added Moscow would be 'extraordinarily stupid' to go to war with its neighbour That’s generally what happens in war bright spark!

Ukraine . “We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armour defensive weapons systems,” announced Ben Wallace, Britain’s defence minister, later that day. Photographs from Ukraine showed the planes stuffed full of Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs), an Anglo-Swedish anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). The Economist today Handpicked stories, in your inbox A daily newsletter with the best of our journalism Sign up According to Mr Wallace’s deputy, Britain had dispatched “thousands” of these. America started sending Ukraine its own Javelin ATGMs in 2018 and in December approved an additional $200m package of arms, including more Javelins. This month it also gave permission for Estonia to send more. How do anti-tank missiles work—and can they stop a Russian invasion of Ukraine? During the second world war, the principal means of stopping a tank was with anti-tank guns that fired relatively small-calibre bullets and shells out of a long barrel at very high speeds. But as tanks became more heavily armoured in the post-war period, infantry forces needed new weapons to stop them. First came shoulder-fired rocket launchers, like America’s iconic M1 “bazooka”, which had to be aimed directly at the target. Then came ATGMs, which could manoeuvre in flight. These came in different flavours. The first generation had a long wire connected to a joystick, which was used to steer the missile onto a tank. They proved their worth in the Yom Kippur war of 1973, when Egyptian forces used Soviet wire-guided missiles to inflict heavy damage on Israeli tanks. The second generation allowed an operator to direct the missile just by keeping the tank in his sights, at first with a wire and later with radio signals. The latest requires no steering at all. “Fire-and-forget” missiles, like the NLAW and Javelin, have a small sensor in the nose—like a camera or thermal imager—that can spot a tank. Just as important is that many are “top-attack” weapons. The Javelin arcs into the sky and plunges down; the NLAW flies a metre or so above the tank with a warhead pointing down (see diagram). Either way, the point is to strike where the armour is thinnest. All of this makes them fearsome weapons. In the Syrian civil war, for instance, rebels destroyed over 3,000 of Syria’s mostly Soviet fleet of armoured vehicles using wire-guided ATGMs largely supplied by Arab states. They are not unstoppable, though. ATGMs are really ambush weapons, says Amael Kotlarski, the editor of Janes Infantry Weapons . Though the Javelin can hit a tank over two miles away, the NLAW requires the operator to get within a hair-raising 800 metres or so—an easier task in woodland or cities than on plains. The missile can also be bamboozled. All modern armoured vehicles can release obscuring smoke, some containing hot white phosphorus smoke, which confuses thermal sensors. In November, some Russian tanks near Ukraine were spotted with “slat” armour on top of the turret, perhaps to misdirect smaller explosives. Others seemed to have heat-emitting decoys on their snorkels (long tubes to allow river crossings) to lead warheads astray—though some Javelins cleverly have two warheads to foil such a trick. An additional line of defence is an active protection system (APS), a newfangled sort of defence that uses radar to detect incoming rounds and then fires explosively-formed projectiles outwards to stop them. Evidence from Gaza, where Israeli tanks have been equipped with the “Trophy” APS, show that it is highly effective at warding off missiles and grenades. Only a small proportion of Russian tanks currently have such defences, says Ben Barry, a former army officer now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank in London. However these would probably be in the vanguard of an attack—a problem not only for Ukrainian planners, but also for NATO ones pondering how to stave off any future Russian attack. Ironically, defeating an APS might require reverting to an older form of anti-tank warfare, says Mr Barry: raking the armour with mortar and gunfire in the hope of damaging the radar. Ukraine’s large and growing armoury of ATGMs would thus be most effective in urban or woodland areas, where defenders could hide among buildings or trees and get close without being detected. Russian commanders, though, mindful of their bitter urban battles in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, in the 1990s, will want to sap Ukraine’s anti-tank defences long before they get in such close proximity. “In simple terms, the Russian way of war is to destroy enemies with massed artillery fire and mop up the survivors with infantry and armour,” says Mr Kotlarski. “The Russians hope to kill most of the anti-tank gunners with artillery long before their tanks get in range of the missiles.” More from