Monday, October 3, 2022

‘Floating HIMARS’ – Ukraine Threatens Russia With Inflatable MLRS As It Stares At Crimean Kerch Bridge – Watch

After a series of deadly attacks on Russian military targets in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukrainian Defense Ministry posted a video message on Twitter with its super weapon HIMARS pointing at the Kerch Bridge.

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On what looks like a warm sunny day, the HIMARS dummy is seen floating on the surface of the Black Sea with thumping, daring music playing in the background. The song is ‘Do you have any regrets.’ The caption with the video reads, “Kerch Bridge…we are watching you!” in what seems to be a direct warning from Ukraine’s official Defense Twitter account.

Besides fighting on a deadly battlefield, Ukraine has also undertaken psychological and information warfare against Russia. With Moscow now caught on the back foot after attacks on Saky Air Base and the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastapol, the strategic Kerch Bridge is in the hitlist.

In the video, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)-like object floating on the surface of the Black Sea is seen pointing towards the Kerch Bridge.

Earlier, there were reports that Russia used inflatable air defense systems as decoys to deceive the Ukrainians.

On August 14, a naval expert and independent OSINT analyst, H.I. Sutton, wrote on his website that Russia’s main naval base in the Black Sea, Sevastopol, is guarded by the latest S-400 air-defense system. The naval base has since come under a drone attack by Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian Defense on Twitter could simply be taking a jibe at Russia for its inflatable air defense systems. Russia had reportedly replaced its S-400 air defense systems with these inflatable dummies.

Netizens shared witty tweets after an old video showcasing Russian inflatable defense systems went viral on Twitter. One Twitter user joked, “Russia needs less air and more defense.”

According to military analyst Miguel Miranda, “What could be seen in the Ukraine Defense video is an inflatable pool. Ukrainians are poking fun at the Russian inability to intercept HIMARS munitions. So they are sending HIMARS near the Kerch Strait Bridge to threaten it.”

Miranda said, “The HIMARS usually launches six 227mm munitions with GPS guidance. Since they have a ballistic flight path, they approach their targets at supersonic speeds. Moving too fast for interception.”

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The HIMARS do not have the range needed to hit the Kerch or the Crimean Bridge, as it is popularly known. Further, the video could just be mere signaling as a heavy rocket launcher like HIMARS cannot launch rockets from a floating surface, as seen in the video.

These missiles can target parts of the bridge but are unlikely to cause severe and debilitating damage.

Kerch Bridge On The Hit-List. Can Ukraine Strike?

The Kerch Bridge, which connects mainland Russia with Crimea, was completed in 2018, long after Russia annexed Crimea, and is a strategic logistic route that houses both roads and rail links. Stretching over sixteen kilometers, Kerch is the longest bridge in Europe, costing $3.7 billion.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has called for the destruction of the bridge, which he considers illegal.

He tweeted: “Regarding ‘Kerchen Bridge.’ It is recorded in international law: Crimea is Ukraine. And that’s why this bridge is a banal object of illegal construction, permission for the construction of which Ukraine did not give.”

Crimean Bridge - Wikipedia
Kerch or Crimean Bridge connects mainland Russia with occupied Crimea- Wikipedia.

Earlier, NATO veteran General Philip Breedlove suggested that the Ukrainian army could attack Kerch Bridge. Russia uses the bridge to transport weapons and troops to Crimea, with the latter now emerging as a target of choice for the Ukrainian forces.

Russian Black Sea naval headquarters in Sevastopol was attacked on August 20 by Ukrainian forces using a suicide drone. A significant strike on Saky Air Base in Crimea earlier had obliterated many Russian Naval fighter jets.

Kyiv has also targeted Russian ammunition depots in Crimea. Therefore, Kerch could be next, which Ukraine is now signaling through a short 10-second video on social media.

Any attack on the Kerch Bridge must occur from Ukrainian territory. As aspirational as it sounds, the Ukrainian troops currently lack a precision-guided missile of a range that could destroy the strategic Russian bridge.

M142 HIMARS - Wikipedia
M142 HIMARS – Wikipedia

While the US has armed Ukraine with HIMARS, it has stopped short of sending longer-range rockets for fear of escalation with Russia. So, this video could be a psycho-op unless a Sevastopol-like drone strike is in the works.

EurAsian Times did a detailed report on drone-strike operations by Ukraine that you can read here.

EurAsian Times had earlier also reported that Russia had deployed countermeasures like smokescreens and radar reflectors to the Kerch Bridge. It was believed to be a Russian attempt at defending the critical bridge from a potential Ukrainian missile onslaught.

Ukraine currently has two long-range missiles – HIMARS and M270 MLRS. HIMARS has a constrained range but can make targeted attacks against valuable ground targets owing to its spot-on precision. However, its capability to destroy the Kerch Bridge is questionable.

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