Ukraine defenseless against missile that struck Dnipro residential building

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Russia’s bombing of a residential apartment building in Dnipro, central Ukraine, on January 13, 2023, resulted in the deaths of 35 people. 70 people were injured in the attack, while an additional 35 residents remain unaccounted for. 

According to preliminary information, the building was hit by a Kh-22, an anti-ship missile with a 1-ton warhead that earned itself the reputation of a “carrier killer” during the Cold War. 
“This type of rocket leads to the greatest human casualties because the rocket is extremely inaccurate and has a huge deviation,” the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine said in a statement. “Therefore, using such weapons for targets in densely populated areas is clearly a war crime.” 

The use of the weapon was later confirmed by Lieutenant General Nikolai Oleshuk, Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force. 

“Radiolocation detected the approximate location of the launch, the altitude and flight speed,” Oleshuk said in a statement. “There is no doubt that it was the Kh-22 missile.” 

In total, five missiles were launched from the region of Kursk by five Tu-22M3 strategic bombers. The aircraft belonged to Russia’s 52nd Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment. They operated from Dyagilevo, a strategic bomber base in the Ryazan region. 

Help is on the way

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine do not have air defense systems capable of shooting down this type of missile,” Oleshuk added. “Since the beginning of Russian military aggression against Ukraine, more than 210 such missiles have been launched. None of them were intercepted by air defense equipment.” 

“Only anti-aircraft missile systems, which in the future may be provided to Ukraine by Western partners (systems such as the Patriot PAC-3 or the SAMP-T), are capable of intercepting these air targets.” 

After initially refusing to do so, the United States agreed at the end of December 2022 to provide a battery of MIM-104 Patriot air defense systems. The training of 90 and 100 Ukrainian crew members will take place by the end of January 2023 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. 

Designed in the late 1970s, the Patriot system has been constantly upgraded with new missiles and other components. It is designed around a powerful AN/MPQ-53/65 passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar set, designed to detect low-cross-section targets and be highly resistant to countermeasures.    

In December 2022, the governments of France and Italy agreed to provide a SAMP/T system [also called MAMBA – ed. note]. The training of Ukrainian operators should also take place in January 2023. 

Developed as part of a collaboration between France and Italy, the MAMBA system can track 100 trajectories and engage 10 of them simultaneously. The Aster 30 missile it employs, developed by MBDA, can hit aircraft up to 120 kilometers away, and ballistic missiles at 30 kilometers.  

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