Russian air defenses have received a new software that allows them to quickly detect, tack and shoot down precision-guided rockets fired by American-made M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) recently supplied to Ukraine, the commander a Russian air defense unit based in the Zaporozhye region told the Ria Novosti news agency on December 2.
The United States and several other NATO members have supplied Kiev forces with around 20 HIMARS systems and 16 MRLS system since the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. These systems are mainly armed with M30/M31 series GMLRS GPS-guided rockets, which have a range of more than 70 kilometers.
The new software update will allow Russian air defense units to make calculations that are nearly 100% more precise, enabling them to swiftly shoot down these rockets.
“Initially, Russian air defenses did not understand what the HIMARS, MLRS rockets were, but after the firmware of the new program, they became a normal target,” RIA Novosti quoted the Russian air defense commander as saying. “We freely detect, track and destroy without problems.”
The commander added that his unit has so far intercepted ten HIMARS precision-guided rockets, including four just the last month.
Alexei Podberezkin, director of Russia’s Centre for Military and Political Studies, told Sputnik radio, “In principle, even before the new software, 75-80 percent of the precision-guided rockets which were launched by HIMARS systems were shot down, but not 100 percent.”
The director noted however that HIMARS rockets could now be shot down with near-perfect certainty thanks to more accurate calculation.
Ukrainian HIMARS and MLRS rockets are being intercepted by Russian air defenses on a daily basis. In its most recent briefing, the Ministry of Defense of Russia said that eight such rockets were shot down in the special military operation zone between December 2 and 3.
Despite the improvement in air defenses, HIMARS and MLRS systems will likely continue to pose a real threat to Russian military and civilian targets.