Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a lot military intelligence has been gathered. Recently, reports of odd munitions on the ground in Ukraine had ballistic experts stumped. The rounds were thought to be some sort of bomblets or cluster bombs. Further investigation has shown that, in fact, they were released from Russian Iskander-M short-range missiles, reported The New York Times. The munitions were decoys to fool air-defense radars and heat-seeking defensive missiles. The munitions emit radio signals and heat reports to fool defenses, reports Julie Coleman of Business Insider. She writes (abridged):
Russia has deployed a mystery munition in Ukraine that’s stumped ballistic experts.
The munitions are decoys meant to trick air-defense radars and heat-seeking missiles, the New York Times reported, and are released from Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles. They are each about a foot long and shaped like a dart with an orange tail, American intelligence officials say.
The devices produce radio signals to confuse enemy radars attempting to locate the missiles, and they also contain a heat source to attract other missiles.
Experts were confused by the munitions, which began circulating on social media a few weeks ago, many mistaking them for bomblets from cluster weapons, reported the Times’ John Ismay, a US Navy veteran who was qualified in explosive ordnance disposal. They are similar to Cold War-era decoys known as “penetration aids” that were designed to bypass antimissile systems in order to reach their targets.
This is an unidentified munition currently being found in Ukraine. At the moment an official identification has not been made. Any additional images, technical information or identification is very much appreciated: https://t.co/dtWwdIJaV3 pic.twitter.com/p2lWFeljYd
— CAT-UXO (@CAT_UXO) March 5, 2022
The Iskander is a short-range ballistic missile system developed soon after the fall of the Soviet Union and has a range of more than 400km, or roughly 250 miles.
Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, called the discovery of these munitions an “intelligence bonanza” for the West. He said it is rare to see technical information about adversaries’ ballistic countermeasures, as their effectiveness is drastically reduced when their secrecy is compromised.
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