Monday, October 3, 2022

MiG-29 Fighter Jet Fires US AGM-88 HARMs At Russian Position; Ukrainian Pilot Dedicates It To ‘Fallen Brothers’

For the first time, a Ukrainian MiG-29 Fulcrum was seen firing the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs) provided by the US in a video released by the Ukrainian Air Force on August 30.

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The existence of HARMs in Ukraine had become known after Russian Telegram channels released the images of the allegedly destroyed AGM-88 HARM, reportedly fired at a Russian position.

Shortly after these images began doing the rounds on social media, the Biden administration officially confirmed providing Ukraine with HARMs for destroying Russian air defense systems.

The latest video released by the Ukrainian air force show HARMs in action from inside the cockpit of a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter. The footage shows multiple HARMs launches, including two pairs of HARMs being launched from medium altitude.

As EurAsian Times discussed before, anti-radiation missiles represent a significant upgrade for the Ukrainian military. However, there have been reports that Russian air defense systems have limited the capability of the Ukrainian air force operating in the eastern Donbas region.

“They created in the Donbas a powerful [anti-access/area denial] zone, and in these circumstances, it is hazardous to fly over them,” said a Foreign Policy report quoting an unnamed Ukrainian official. “In low altitude, the Russian air defense is waiting for us,” the official said.

The AGM-88 HARM is a significant addition to the Ukrainian arsenal that could potentially be a game-changer, just like the HIMARS Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) provided by the US.

AGM-88 HARM on F-4G.jpg
An AGM-88 loaded on an F-4 Phantom (Wikipedia)

The HIMARS provides Ukraine with a rapid precision strike capability at standoff ranges without the need for air power, thereby allowing the Ukrainian military to compensate for the small size of its air force.

The AGM-88 HARM provides Ukraine with suppression and destruction of enemy air defense capability, also referred to as SEAD/DEAD. It enables the Ukrainian military to destroy Russian air defenses’ radars and allow the fighters to operate safely in eastern Donbas, supporting ground troops.

The Video From Ukrainian Air Force Shows Various Other Weapon Launches

Apart from the HARMs, the latest video also shows the launches of various other weapons, such as the radar-guided R-27R (AA-10 Alamo) and heat-seeking R-73 (AA-11 Archer) air-to-air missiles (AAMs).

Also, the MiG-29’s 30mm GSh-301 cannon for air-to-ground strafing is seen in use, and because of the vibration caused by the gun rattling through the cockpit, the GPS device added to the cockpit instrumental panel can be seen falling off.

Russia MiG-29
File Image: MiG-29

The GPS device in the video is the commercially available handheld Garmin 66 series device, just like the ones found on Russian fighter jets for which British Defense Minister Ben Wallace ridiculed the Russian military.

One of the netizens pointed out the presence of the Garmin 66 series device while noting, “I remember a while ago the Russian airforce being mocked for using an ancient model Garmin GPS receiver onboard their SU-34. But the Ukrainian airforce also uses commercially available GPS devices as we see a Garmin 66 series handheld GPS mounted here.”

In the video, another Ukrainian fighter jet is seen fitted with a digital device. Reports suggest this is a Garmin 660 with a larger touchscreen display to provide additional navigation cues, particularly to enhance the gunnery accuracy when ground strafing or using the HARM.

Furthermore, the video also shows the MiG-29 firing a pair of unguided air-to-ground rockets, reportedly the Soviet-era 240mm (9.45-inch) rockets introduced in the early 1960s.

How Is Ukrainian Air Force Employing HARMs? 

Nevertheless, it remains unclear how the Ukrainian Air Force is deploying the HARMs from its MiG-29s. The video shows that the HARM is carried on the inner underwing pylons, where usually the R-27R is mounted.

Recent reports suggest the HARM missile used by the Ukrainian military is the D variant of the AGM-88. The AGM-88D has GPS tied to its inertial navigation system (INS), unlike the older models, which would flow to the general target area using INS and then hone in on emitters using a passive seeker.

Combining GPS with INS allows the AGM-88D to function in the Pre-Briefed Mode, in which the coordinates of the enemy radar site are already fed to the missile, as discussed by a recent EurAsian Times report.

According to Russian-language media reports, for the past three weeks, Ukrainian forces have been using HARMs to target and destroy the illumination radars of the Russian S-400 and Buk-M3 anti-aircraft missile systems positioned to provide an air defense umbrella over Kherson and Nova Kakhovka.

There has been a documented instance of this, as the remains of an AGM-88 missile were said to have been recovered from a house in Kherson Oblast earlier this month, which according to Russian-language media, was detected by Russian air defense forces and jammed by Russian Electronic Warfare (EW) systems.

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