"Ukrainian vs. Russian Artillery
+ US Buying Taiwan's Hawk Missiles for Ukrainian Air Defense"
by Brian Berletic
The New Atlas July 16, 2023)
Update on the conflict in Ukraine for July 17, 2023:
- Western analysts are claiming the recent alleged resignation of Russian General Popov reflects Ukrainian artillery superiority amid the ongoing counteroffensive despite the fact that Ukraine is admittedly losing more armor and troops and has failed to make any substantial progress in over a month and a half of intense fighting;
- Western analysts admit Russia outguns Ukraine both in terms of artillery pieces and artillery ammunition but claims Ukraine has the “edge” because of its “artillery kill chain” which includes drones and counter-battery radars, technology Russia also has but in greater abundance;
- The US is allegedly buying Hawk air defense missiles decommissioned this year by Taiwan. The Hawk air defense systems was developed during the 1960’s and the version Taiwan has on hand was upgrade in the 1980s;
- The Hawk missiles serve as a very limited replacement for medium range air defense systems like Ukraine’s Soviet-era Buk systems and will not enable Ukraine to defend against Russian glide bombs along the line of contact;
- Before these Hawk missiles reach Ukraine, they will require refurbishment, a time-consuming process limited by a lack of facilities and qualified human resources. Similar limitations are inhibiting further production of newer weapon systems like the man-portable Stinger anti-aircraft missile;
- In the wake of Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tanks failing on the battlefield, an even smaller number of US M1 Abrams are being touted as the next great hope for Ukrainian forces;
- In another Washington Post interview with Ukrainian commander General Valery Zaluzhny, he admits that Ukraine doesn't have the necessary material means to succeed on the battlefield;
. . . [snip] . . .
25:35 Brian Berletic: [reads headline from The Drive] "Taiwan's Retired Hawk SAMs Headed To Ukraine. Taiwan recently retired its Hawk surface-to-air missile systems which the US may be buyinig back and sending to Ukraine."
"There's nothing certain about this but we've already heard the US talking about sending Hawk anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine. Now this system was developed in the 1960s. The Phase Three Hawk missiles that Taiwan decommissioned were last upgraded in the 1980s. So these are very old missile systems. This pre-dated the Patriot air defense system. The US does not have enough Patriot systems or interceptors for them to fire to meet Ukraine's air defense needs. Also they don't have enough IRST or NASAMS between the US and the rest of Europe. So, they're just finding anything -- anything at all -- that they can use."
26:39 "Now, this is a medium range air defense system. If you had to compare it to something that's right now on the battlefields, you could compare it to, say, the Soviet-era BUK missile launcher. Only the BUK more advanced, more mobile, more capable than the Hawk air defense system. Neither the Hawk nor the BUK system can defend against Russian warplanes dropping Glide bombs. These Glide bombs have a longer range than either the hawk or BUK missile system. They're dropping these glide bombs along the line of contact. The mobile air defense system that Ukraine has left are incapable of targeting the aircraft dropping these Glide bombs. So, at best, what the hawk air defense missile system is going to do is to delay the inevitable: that point in time where Ukraine's air defense systems are so degraded that Russian air power can operate anywhere over Ukraine with relative impunity."
27:36 "And that's if and when these Hawk missile sysems show up on the battlefield. Because there is another problem. They all need to be refurbished. And that's easier said than done. And to explain this, I want to use another example: the Stinger surface-to-air defense system. This is a man-portable anti-aircraft missile. It is described in this articleby Defense One. There is a photograph of a Ukranian soldier carrying the Stinger missile system. And the title of the article is: Raytheon Calls in Retirees to Help Restart Stinger Missile Production" This is actually a very good aricle that explains the reality of the problems the West has with military and military-industrial output. So it says:
Raytheon has called in retired engineers to teach employees how to build the Stinger missiles heavily used by Ukraine's military using blueprints drawn up during the Carter Administration. It's the latest example of a private company working to ramp-up production of a now in-demand weapon that the Pentagon hasn't purchased in decades. 'Stinger has been out of production for twenty years and all of a sudden, in the first 48 hours of the war, it's the star of the show and everybody wants it," Wes Cramer, the president of RTX's Raytheon division, said this during an interview last week at the Paris Air Show.
29:10 "This article is from June 2023."
The US has sent of the heat-seeking missiles to Ukraine which have used them to shoot down Russian aircraft. All of those missiles have come from US military stockpiles and the Biden administration said this week it will send even more stinger missiles to Ukraine. When the US Army placed an order of 1,700 Stingers in May 2022, the Pentagon said the missiles wouldn't be delivered until 2026. Cramer said it would take 30 months for Stingers to start rolling off the production line, largely because of the time it takes to set up the factory and training employees. 'We're bringing back retired employees who are in their 70s to teach our new employees how to build a Stinger,' Cramer said. 'We're pulling test equipment out of warehouses and blowing the spider webs off of them. On top of that, the electronics used in the missile are obsolete,' said RTX CEO Greg Hayes. 'We're redesigning circuit cards and redesigning some of the component tree' Hayes told Defense One in a June 14th interview. 'That just takes a long time. While engineers these days often tout 3D printing and automation as a way to speed up the manufacturing process, that's not possible with the Stinger because doing so would not only mean redesigning the weapons but also undergoing a lengthy weapon certification process. You'd have to redesign the entire Seeker in order to automate it,' Cramer said. 'That means that they must be built the same way they were built four decades ago, including installing the missile's nose cone by hand.'
30:46 "And if that's the story of the Stinger, what do you think the much older Hawk missile system will entail? A very similar process. A very lengthy and impractical process. But this is where the US and the rest of NATO are right now: struggliing because of the inefficiencies of their military-industrial base."
31:12 "This all goes back to the state of the Western military-industrial capacity. It's the way the US and its allies have organized and used their military over the past several decades. They've been fighting these very small wars. They've prioritized profit over pupose. They've maintained very small production lines, specifically to maximize profit. And because they've done that, they're now entirely ill-prepared for a large-scale conflict like what's unfolding in Ukraine. And Russia did not do this. They inherited a massive military-industrial capacity from the Soviet Union, they maintained it, they modernized it, and in certain aspects they've expanded it, which is why they are prepared for this conflict in Ukraine and the collective West is not. And this is something that takes years and years to do and these are years and years that Ukraine doesn't have. They do not have the time for the West to catch up to Russia's current state of military industrial ourput."
32:14 "In this aspect, Ukraine's fate is sealed. And we remember older articles where they talked about how the US is never going to be able to produce enough artillery shells for Ukraine to match or exceed what Russia is firing. Their process of expanding their production will take until 2028 and even then it will not be enough. And they talked about how, instead, Ukraine needs to learn how to fight smarter. They have to fight using NATO style maneuver warfare. Well, that's what they're doing in the middle of this offensive. And we can see how that is playing out. They've tried expanding military-industrial output. That is impractical. They've tried NATO-style maneuver warfare. That is not working. What's left for them to do?"
33:04 "And one final point. Here is yet another interview with Ukrainian Commander General Valerie Zaluzhny. Washington Post: To Defeat Russia, Ukraine's top commander pushes to fight on his terms. (July 14, 2023). The article describes him as 'the man Ukrainians trust to keep them safe Western partners trust with billions in security assistance. Both expect him to recreate Ukraine's earlier underdog success on the battlefield.' And of course, they're talking about the Kharkov offensive which took place in a region where there were hardly any Russian troops present, and also the Kherson offensive where Ukraine was losing multiple brigades in stagnant fighting until Russia decided to pull out and move to the other side of the Dneiper River and left the city unihabitable."
"The article goes on. It says 'But if it were up to Zaluzhni alone, this is not how he would get the job done. He would fight with air superiority. He would fire back at least as many shells as the Russians are firing at his troops. And he would have cruise missiles that could match Moscow's. Instead, modern fighter jets such as the US-made F-16, are not expected on the battlefield until next year. Ukraine's ammunition is often constrained with the Russians often shooting three times as much in a day and, as General Zaluzhni in a previous interview said, as many as ten times as much in a day."
34:41 "He's obviously not getting any of this. He's not goint to establish air superiority over Ukraine. That is impossible, even if the collective West handed over every single F-16 in their inventories to Ukraine today, they would not be able to establish air superiority because they don't have the pilogts capable of effectively using these warplanes. They don't have the maintenance crews capable of maintaining them. And they don't have the airports and the infrastructure required to operate them. This is completely unfeasable. It cannot happen. It will not happen."
35:18 "He's also not going to get more artillery ammunition because it physically doesn't exist. It does not exist and it will not exist even in 2028 when the US finishes expanding its production, they still will not have enough artillery rounds produced per month to match Ukraine's current rates of fire that are being outmatched by the Russians."
35:43 "And cruise missiles. They've been given the Storm Shaddow cruise missile. It has made no difference. They don't have enough of them. They're not ableto fire enough of them at one single time to sufficiently overwhelm Russian air defense systems. And Russia has, itself, much longer cruise missiles that are far more effective and far more numerous. This is a re-occuring theme here.
"The rest of this article is about how Geneal Zaluzhni says he's going to stike Russia even without NATO approval and he's going to use Ukrainian-made weapons to do it. Whatever Ukrainian-made weapons he has to do this with are going to be at least developed in cooperation with NATO, most likely in NATO territory so that the workshops and the teams working on them cannot be targeted by Russian strikes inside Ukrainian territory. But, again, they're not going to be able to make enough of these to make any difference. For every long-range strike weapons Ukraine is able to put together and launch at Russia, Russia is able to launch many times more at targets all across Ukraine."
"Don't forget, Russia has the best air defense in the world. This even according to Western analysts, and they have proven this over and over by defeating the few long-range strikes Ukraine has launched into Russian territory, deep into Russian territory."
37:11 "This is a lose-lose situation. Ukraine will not admit defeat, but they have no way of winning. Their NATO sponsors face the same problem. They cannot admit defeat, but they have no ability to win on the battlefield. All they can do is delay the inevitable. Just like they did in Afghanistan. Just like they are doing in Syria right now. What they're doing in Iraq. What they had been doing in Vietnam for years and years and years. They dragged it out for as long as possible, unable to change the fundamentals that from the very beginning determined the outcome of the war, not in their favor. And by extending this conflict further, trying to delay the inevitable, all they're doing is extending the amount of death and destruction that takes place within Ukrainian territory."