The war between Ukraine and Russia is at a crossroads. The addition of the Army’s Tactical Missile Systems ( ATACMS ) could turn the tide of the conflict in Ukraine’s favor, but is the Pentagon willing to provide them?
The crucial role of ATACMS in Ukraine
Ukraine faces a powerful enemy in Russia, and the lack of air superiority limits its defensive capabilities. Multiple Launch Rocket Systems ( MLRS ) and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems ( GMLRS ) are valuable tools, but not enough to stop the Russian advance.
The ATACMS, by contrast, has a much longer range, which would allow Ukraine to destroy Russian rocket launchers from safe distances and support larger incursions into previously Russian-held territory.
The Pentagon, however, has been reluctant to send ATACMS, arguing that the Ukrainians already have what they need. Is it enough?
What is ATACMS?
Ukraine and the Potential of ATACMS
ATACMS have been part of the US Army inventory for years and have been upgraded with new guidance, command and control systems. These “quasi-ballistic” missiles are difficult to track or intercept due to their erratic behavior in flight.
With different types of warheads, ATACMS can saturate large areas with antipersonnel submunitions or use unitary warheads to increase accuracy and reduce collateral damage.
These missiles were used in the Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom, with more than 500 ATACMS launched in combat.
The Dilemma of the Pentagon and the Defense of Ukraine
The Pentagon may be concerned about a possible escalation if Ukrainian weapons hit Russian territory. However, in a purely tactical sense, ATACMS could be crucial in ensuring an effective defense against Russian rocket attacks and supporting larger Ukrainian incursions.
The question remains in the air: will the Pentagon provide the ATACMS to Ukraine? The answer could be decisive for the course of the war.
ATACMS could turn the tide of the Ukraine-Russia war, but the Pentagon has been reluctant to provide them. These long-range, hard-to-track missiles could ensure an effective defense against Russian rocket attacks and support larger Ukrainian incursions.