Ukraine Strikes Airfields, Claims to Have Destroyed Nine Helicopters

Ukraine has used U.S.-made cluster-bomb-tipped rockets from the ATACMS system for the first time, it is claimed, with the weapon said to have taken out nine Russian helicopters while they were still on the ground.

Ukraine claims to have taken out nine helicopters and associated support equipment on the ground in a series of coordinated strikes against Russian-occupied airfields overnight. Per a statement from the Ukrainian government the strikes in the early hours of Tuesday morning were against airfields in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine including Berdiansk and Luhansk and as well as the nine military helicopters Ukraine says ammunition stores and an “air defence” system were also destroyed.

The report stated the runways on the airfields were also hit and damaged, and the ammunition cooking off in the supply dump hit caused a blast that lasted for some several hours until mid-Tuesday morning.

This considerable strike against Russian airpower while powered down and — theoretically — safe on its own airfields is claimed to be the first strike by Ukraine using its new missile system from the United States, the much-vaunted and long discussed ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) against Russia. Much longer range and more accurate than some other missiles fielding by the Ukrainians, it also benefits from having a cluster-munition head.

The munition is particularly effective at area attacks, where a less devestating but wider range blast radius is desired. Attacking massed formations of infantry, soft-skinned vehicles, and parked military aircraft all benefit from this type of weapon, but they are controversial. The large number of bomblets spread over the wuder area has been associated with failures to detonate, leaving lethal charges that may be discovered by unsuspecting civilians years later.

As previously reported, Ukraine long argued to be given the ATACM system despite Washington’s objections — beleiving their long range could be used to strike targets deep inside Russia, increasing the risk of nuclear retaliation — because the cluster bomblets would be effective at taking out the well-entrenched Russian infantry resisting Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

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