The Russians finally destroyed a Ukrainian HIMARS.

The fate of the HIMARS crew during the attack is uncertain, as is the reason why the system was parked in the open in broad daylight. After persistent efforts for two years, Russian forces have finally managed to neutralize one of the Ukrainian High Mobility Artillery Rocket Launcher (HIMARS) systems.

A Russian unmanned aircraft detected the wheeled HIMARS and its support units in the vicinity of a forest in Nykanorivka, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, located about 40 kilometers from the battlefront.

It is presumed that a missile, probably a ground-launched hypersonic Iskander, reached the vicinity of HIMARS, causing the 17-ton launch pad to catch fire and apparently detonating one of its 227-millimeter M30/31 rockets.

The fate of the HIMARS crew during the attack is uncertain, as is the reason why the system was parked in the open in broad daylight. The 27th Rocket Artillery Brigade, the only HIMARS operator within the Ukrainian army, usually deploys them at dawn or dusk, keeping them in constant movement and under cover when not in action.

This event represents a severe setback for the Ukrainian military and a rare counterbattery victory for Russia, which until now had faced difficulties in neutralizing the American-made HIMARS. The effectiveness of the combination of a long-range surveillance drone and a rapid response Iskander system appears to have been decisive against the Ukrainian 27th Brigade.

Poland receives its first M142 HIMARS missile launchers

Russian prioritization in tracking Ukrainian HIMARS has a clear logic. The previous month, in just one week, the HIMARS carried out three attacks against forming Russian formations within their 91-kilometer range, each releasing 182,000 tungsten spheres, acting as large-scale shotgun shells.

Strategic impact of the loss of a HIMARS in Ukraine

These attacks caused the deaths of hundreds of Russian soldiers, including numerous officers. Beyond dismantling troop formations, HIMARS have directed their fire against Russian artillery, headquarters and supply depots. In some months last year, a limited number of M39 ballistic missiles with a range of 160 kilometers, provided by the United States, were also used against air bases and air defense positions.

The Russians finally destroyed a Ukrainian HIMARS.

The loss of a HIMARS does not represent a definitive failure for the Ukrainian forces. The United States has supplied Ukraine with a total of 39 HIMARS, to which are added 25 M270 rocket launchers donated by the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France, basically tracked versions of the HIMARS with double rocket capacity. This implies that Ukraine maintains 98% of its HIMARS and M270 arsenal.

Attrition from Russian counter-battery action is not the main threat to these Ukrainian systems. The cadence of HIMARS operations has shown a recent slowdown, an understandable situation given that the United States, its largest supplier of munitions for these systems, saw aid interrupted starting in October due to pro-Russian congressional blockades. Ukraine faces the risk of depleting its HIMARS ammunition long before the systems themselves.