Video shows Ukrainian soldiers shooting down cruise missile with MANPADS

Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces

Footage has surfaced online that allegedly captures the moment Ukrainian soldiers shot down a Russian cruise missile with a man-portable air defense system (MANPADS).  

The video, which was first posted across Ukrainian social media channels during the afternoon of October 10, 2022, and later reposted by the account of Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces, shows a soldier standing in the field with what appears to be a Soviet-era 9K38 Igla launcher.  

A voice in the background can be heard shouting “[here] it goes”, followed by the roar of a jet engine and bursts of small-arms fire. The voice then shouts: “Vanya [a shortened form for Ivan], go!” The man then launches a missile, while what appears to be another launch can be heard in the background.   

Both missiles can then be seen flying into the distance, with one exploding after hitting its target as cheers and swear words can be heard in the background.  

While the footage was posted on October 10, it is impossible to date it accurately. But if true, it is likely to show one of multiple missile interceptions that took place during the morning of the same day, according to Ukrainian military.  

During the early hours of October 10, Russia launched its largest strike on Ukrainian cities in recent months, targeting civilian infrastructure.  

According to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi, 41 out of 75 missiles launched by the Russian military were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.  

But if the video shows an event that occurred even earlier, it is still a unique instance of man-portable air defenses being used against cruise missiles.  

Reports of Ukrainian soldiers shooting down missiles with MANPADS such as the 9K38 Igla, FIM-92 Stinger and PPZR Piorun, have surfaced since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. However, video evidence of such events has been scarce.  

The majority of cruise missiles, such as the Russian 3M-54 Kalibr, fly most of their route at low altitudes and subsonic speeds, thus being vulnerable to short-range air defenses. However, the limited range of MANPADS also requires operators to be in the vicinity of the missile’s flightpath. They also require intensive coordination between operators and radar stations that can detect such missiles at longer ranges.

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