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Ukraine - Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM)

In the first week after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the United States and NATO reportedly pushed [ot pledged] more than 17,000 antitank weapons, including Javelin missiles, over the borders of Poland and Romania into Ukraine. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on 16 June 2022 told reporters that the U.S. and its allies have contributed 97,000 Javelin missiles and other anti-tank weapons, which Milley calculated was "more anti-tank systems than there are tanks in the world."

The large-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine exposed not only the shortcomings in the armed forces of the Armed Forces, but also those moments where, since 2014, there has been a significant improvement in combat capabilities. "ATGMs" is just such a direction with a plus sign. The fighting during the first week of the great war showed how effective and organized Ukrainian anti-tank defenses were.

At the beginning of February 2022, the Armed Forces received from the Western allies about 150-175 Javelin ATGM launchers, including approximately 1,000-1,200 missiles of two modifications, 2,000 NLAW anti-tank weapons and a large number of reactive anti-tank grenade launchers. They were intended for close combat - and this was the nature of the confrontation with the Russian armada in February-March. the Armed Forces of Ukraine began to massively receive cannon anti-tank guided missile defense systems - in addition to the old Soviet "Cobra" (according to some reports, a large batch of "Cobra" was bought "somewhere in the CIS"), these were also domestic "Combats". Total approximately 1200-1800 units.

These deliveries supplemented the purchase of anti-tank missile systems. Thus, after 2012, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine received at least 650 Stugna-P and Korsar launchers and about 7,000 missiles for both systems. In addition, there were at least 150 turret systems with dual ATGMs. Considering the stock of rockets in the car as an additional 24 ATGMs, this gave about 600-900 rockets.

Thus, the anti-tank capabilities of the Ukrainian army at the beginning of February 2022 amounted to 950 anti-tank missile launchers (Javelin, "Stugna-P", "Corsar", "Barrier") and about 9,100 guided missiles. To this must be added NLAW grenade launchers, Kobra/Kombat tanks, as well as over a thousand Fagot and Metis ATGMs and several thousand rockets to them. However, these Soviet samples, based on the experience of the battles of 2014-2015, turned out to be unreliable due to exceeding the storage period.

In a very short time, additional batches of disposable AT4, M72 grenade launchers, NLAW missiles, Panzerfaust3 grenade launchers, Milan-2T ATGMs were delivered to the Armed Forces from Sweden, Denmark, France, Norway, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Estonia, Belgium, Canada and the USA.

"Stugna" has a quasi-top attack, which "Cornet" does not have. In general, based on the results of the battles, it is possible to safely say that the "Stugna" is the most dangerous anti-tank weapon in the hands of our soldiers, and most of the Russian tanks were destroyed precisely by the operators of this complex.

The Western Allies supplied the Ukrainian Armed Forces with a sufficient number of disposable anti-tank grenade launchers, such as the M72 LAW, AT4, RPG-76 "Komar" and even RPG-18 (from the stockpiles of the former GDR). In addition, Ukraine independently purchases a number of samples, for example, Bulgarian BULSPIKE-AT. The ability to penetrate tank armor of anti-tank weapons of this type usually ranges from 260-350 mm, which is absolutely insufficient for fighting tanks. But with their help, troops can effectively fight against any wheeled transporters, Soviet BMP and BMD, armored vehicles, patrol cars. The disadvantage is the short range of effective fire - almost no more than 200 m on stationary targets.

The anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is not a new concept on the modern battlefield. Following the moderate success of unguided rockets against armored targets in World War II, the Germans developed the X-7, or Rotkappchen, specifically designed for the anti-armor role. The concept of the X-7 was simple: deliver a formidable warhead, capable of penetrating armor, with increased range, accuracy and lethality. The X-7 has inspired 70 years of guided-missile innovation. The infantryman having this type of weapon receives a significant capability to destroy armored targets of all types. ATGMs give the infantryman that which was previously lacking, i.e., a weapon with a high percentage of destroying tanks.

In 1964, Khrushchev showed corcern and surprise over the effectiveness of new anti-tank missiles after emphasis had been placed on the development of tank forces. The lessons of the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 concerning tank employment were not lost to the Soviets. They recognized the potential of anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). The Soviet concept of the offensive called for the tank to provide the punch. Only through the offensive can the ultimate goal be obtained -- total destruction of the enemy's forces. If NATO's anti-tank defense can hold against the initial offensive surge of massed Soviet armor, then Soviet plans may be thrown askew.

The primary goal for the NATO defensive platoons was separating the infantry from the tanks, thereby allowing the anti-tank defense to destroy the tanks piecemeal. The Soviets fully expected NATO's anti-tank defense to be "saturated" with all types of anti-tank weapons. Soviet military commentary planned to use their artillery to suppress anti-tank forces. There was not general agreement on what constituted "suppression", since this depends on such intangibles as troop motivation and bravery. One US Army study of the effect of suppression of Soviet artillery on survivability and effectiveness of anti-tank forces in killing Soviet tanks found that total suppresion would increase the fraction of Soviet tanks killed by ATGMs from 10% to about 46%.

The ATGM possesses great range, with the next generation promising even better ranges. Secondly, they are highly mobile whether mounted on an armored personnel carrier (APC), an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), a jeep, or in a man-packed configuration. Thirdly, their accuracy is excellent and their ability to penetrate the heaviest armor presently found on the battlefield is excellent. Additionally, employment on advantageous terrain permits the ATGM to be utilized at its maximum rangem, distances from which the main gun of the tank cannot be used against the infantry.

As of the beginning of 2014, Ukrainian anti-tank defense actually did not exist - the ATGMs did not have proper training and the opportunity to gain experience. To make matters worse, rockets produced in the 1970s and 1980s had an excess storage capacity, resulting in regular failures. The very effectiveness of the Soviet samples of the "Fagot" type was controversial - in fact, they were powerless against Russian tanks with dynamic protection systems of the "Kontakt-1" or "Kontakt-5" type. New ATGMs were not purchased, with the exception of demonstration samples (for export, acceptance of the product into service by the national armed forces was a necessary condition). During the battles in Donbas in 2014-2015, the anti-tank successes were minimal due to the insignificant use of tanks by the Russians in the battles. In general, there were about 75 knocked out tanks, of which 42 are T-64 family, the rest are T-72. About 70% of them (at least 52 units) fell victim to the massed fire of anti-tank grenade launchers on the sides of the hull and the side or aft surfaces of the turret. This was the case during the breakthrough of Ukrainian troops from Ilovaisk and Debaltseve. Fortunately, Ukraine inherited an industrial base from the USSR, and engineers were able to complete Soviet-era projects. However, new generations of ATGMs appeared, which first achieved export success, and then were sent en masse to the Ukrainian army. The only effective means of anti-tank combat in the Armed Forces of Ukraine are the complexes "Stugna-P" and "Corsair" of domestic production. From 2016 to 2022, by one account, Ukraine made over 14,000-16,000 of their own ATGMs (mostly Stugna-P and the Skif export variant), though these numbers seem to have at least an extra zero relative to the reported number of launchers. The total number of launchers "Stugna-P" and "Corsair" in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including warehouses and arsenals - no more than 300 and 100 units, respectively. Provision of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with missiles for the Corsair complex is 10% of the need, Stugna-P missiles - 50% of the need. The minimum need of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, taking into account the number of Russian armored vehicles on the borders, is at least 1,500 Stugna-P launchers and 500 Corsair launchers.

The practice of using the 9K111 Fagot anti-tank RPG and the 9K111-1 Competition anti-tank RPG system revealed the significant unsuitability of these complexes in the conditions of modern combat. The percentage of failures (failures) during launch was 68%, not to mention the low efficiency of missile targeting, which is aimed at the target via a wired connection.

According to various sources, there were 77 Javelin launchers and 540 missiles. In 2018 Ukraine received 37 Javelin launchers and 210 missiles from the United States, and in 2020 - 10 launchers and 150 missiles. The United States sent 30 Javelin anti-tank guided missile systems to Ukraine in October 2021 as part of its annual military aid to help the country deter Russian aggression, the Pentagon confirmed on 11 December 2021. The shipment also included 180 Javelin missiles. Javelins are lethal weapons that can pierce tank armor. The United States had previously sent Javelin systems to Ukraine to help it defend against possible Russian aggression. On 25 January 2022 a shipment of 79 tons of security assistance for Ukraine’s armed forces, the third shipment of $200 million in assistance authorized by President Biden, arrived at Boryspil Airport in Kyiv, including another 300 Javelin missiles.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on January 17 that two Boeing C-17A Globemaster military transport aircraft arrived at Kyiv's Boryspil Airport from the British air base Brize Norton, bringing anti-tank systems for the Ukrainian army. UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said this support "is for short-range and clearly defensive weapon capabilities." The NLAW (Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon) anti-tank missile system is manufactured by Sweden's SAAB and is in service with about ten countries. NATO countries have supplied Ukraine with more than 560 tons of weapons, including 2000 NLAW anti-tank missiles.

British instructors started training the Ukrainian military to operate NLAW anti-tank missile systems, provided by the British government as part of defense assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The training started at the Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Ground Forces Academy in Lviv region the director of the academy, Pavlo Tkachuk, announced on 25 January 2022. "I personally attended the first lesson and talked to the instructors of the UK's training mission in Ukraine, Operation ORBITAL, who train our soldiers. I got acquainted with the tactical and technical characteristics and peculiarities of the use of these latest weapons. Very soon, the first several dozen service members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be able to effectively use these anti-tank missile systems and train other Ukrainian soldiers," Tkachuk wrote.

Estonia was providing Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank weapons while Latvia and Lithuania were sending Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other equipment including thermal sights after receiving permission from the US, the three countries’ defence ministers said on 21 January 2022.

This made it possible to saturate the anti-tank defense of Ukraine on the battlefield at the level of infantry platoons and create a fairly good defense, saturated with anti-tank weapons. As a result, as of 29 August 2022, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the Russians lost 1,947 tanks. The Oryx portal, which focuses on confirmation through photos and videos, testified to the loss of 955 tanks of the Russian Armed Forces.

In any case, it is safe to say that by 2023 the anti-tank defense of the Armed Forces was one of the best in Europe.

Ukrainian ATGMs
BULSPIKE-AT RPG-22 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAbeNTMVLjE">American volunteer engages Russian forces with Browning M2 HMG and BULSPIKE-AT launchers!! Deliveries of purchased weapons to Ukraine from Bulgaria mostly remain out of sight – despite being pretty significant, especially regarding ammunition. The single-use BULSPIKE anti-tank missile was also documented to be in service with the Ukrainian armed forces. BULSPIKE is produced by two Bulgarian companies – VMZ Sopot and Opticoelectron Panagyurishte. Bulgarian BULSPIKE-AT grenade launchers are being used more and more successfully in Ukraine. This is clear from a video of the American volunteer Yuri. The Bulgarian development BULSPIKE-AT is a modernized version of RPG-22 and is produced by VMZ-Sopot. For several months, Ukrainian media have been boasting about the effectiveness of the Bulgarian weapon, which was more convenient to use than the Soviet original. In the video of the American soldier Yuri, he tells how the Bulgarian grenade launcher helped him destroy one of the most modern Russian armored vehicles on the front in Ukraine - the BMP-4. Earlier, the fighter from VSU also showed a video showing him using a Bulgarian BULSPIKE-AT from a Hummer jeep. BULSPIKE-AT is the upgraded version of Soviet RPG-22. It is produced by Vazovski Machine-Building Plant. The BULSPIKE-AT round is intended for destruction of tanks, self-propelled guns and other motorized an armoured vehicles, as well as against the enemy manpower located in bunkers, field shelters and urban-type brick-wall fortifications. The disposable rocket launcher loaded with an PG-22(AT), TB-22M(TB) and OG-22M(AP) rounds. The grenade launcher is also suitable for parachute landing fall. The BULSPIKE-AT uses the same HEAT projectile as the Soviet RPG-22, which VMZ of Bulgaria also manufactures- but unlike the RPG-22, it can be easily transferred back from the combat position to transport position. With the RPG-22 this isn't possible: the launcher must be fired. TECHNICAL DATA Caliber, mm 72,50 Rocket anti-tank grenade weight, kg 3,480 Grenade weight, kg 1,400 Sighting range max, m 350 Maximum distance, m 500 Armour penetration, mm 400 Muzzle velocity, m/s 137 Direct fire range, m 150 Safe operational temperature range, °C -40…50 Deployment time, s 8…10 Caliber: 72.5 mm Armor penetration: 400 mm Distance of right shot: 100-150 m* Sighting range: 350-500 m* Initial speed: 100-133 m/s* Time to change from march to battle position: < 8 s Operating temperature -40°C to +50°C Storing temperature -55°C to +60°C Weight: – Including round: 3.280-3.8 kg* – Without round: 1.8 kg Dimensions (LxWxH): 765 x 150 x 150 mm *Depends on type of used rounds (AT, TB or AP) PACKING Dimensions, mm 847?688?364 5 rounds in a case Gross weight, kg 43 http://vmz.bg/en/ Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi EAD Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi (VMZ) EAD is the biggest enterprise of the military and industrial complex in Bulgaria. Due to the intellectual potential of its engineering staff and high qualification of its executive personnel a wide assortment of defence and civil items has been manufactured during the years of its existence. The first stone in its foundation was laid on 9 June, 1936. VMZ EAD has its own place in the Bulgarian history as the first and only enterprise decorated with the highest state orders of the Republic of Bulgaria. “VMZ” EAD develops and produces a wide range of products for special purposes, for some of which it is the only manufacturer in the world such as ammunition, grenades, missiles, fuses, lighters, pyro-delays and others. Currently “VMZ” is one of the biggest companies in Eastern Europe for the production of special products. The company combines in itself everything necessary for the design, development, provision of non-standard equipment, production of metal parts, filling and assembly. This completeness of the full production cycle guarantees very high quality and flexibility inherent solely to the highest class companies. Main products Grenades for use on RPG-7 grenade launcher fitted with warheads with a HEAT, tandem/HEAT, HEAT/fragmentation, FRAG/HE, thermobaric and penetration effect Grenades for use on SPG-9 grenade launcher and 2?-28 gun fitted with warheads with a HEAT, tandem/HEAT, HEAT/fragmentation, FRAG/HE, thermobaric and penetration effect Disposable rocket grenades launchers with anti-tank (BULSPIKE-AT, RPG-22), thermobaric (BULSPIKE-TB) and fragmentation (BULSPIKE-AP) effect 122 mm rockets for use on BM-21 GRAD multiple launch rocket system Air-to-surface unguided aircraft rockets of 57 mm and 80 mm caliber FRAG/HE, HEAT, smoke and illuminating artillery rounds with calibers 100mm, 122mm, 125mm, 130mm, 152mm and 155mm Manufacture of cartridge cases for artillery ammunition of calibers 100 mm, 105 mm, 122 mm, 130 mm, and 152 mm 60 mm, 81 mm, 82 mm and 120 mm mortar rounds with FRAG/HE and thermobaric effect Offensive, defensive and thermobaric hand grenades “Fagot”, “Faktoria”, “Konkurs”, “Malyutka” and “Metis” anti-tank guided missiles Mechanical and electromechanical fuzing and igniting devices for various types of ammunition On 12 July, 1940 an inaugural ceremony to open the state military factory was held. Production commenced with hand grenades, 22 mm HE rounds, 122 mm howitzer rounds, fuzes, 75 mm rounds and 105 mm projectiles for Krupp gun. In the recent years and nowadays the company passed through different stages of its development. Various activities and divisions were started. New production facilities were opened. Due to the intellectual potential of its engineering staff and high qualification of its executive personnel a wide assortment of defence and civil items has been manufactured during the years of its existence. A quality management system certified for conformity with the requirements of the ISO 9001:2008 international standard and NATO standard AQAP 2110 has been set up at VMZ EAD. The high quality and up-to-date performance specifications of the products manufactured by VMZ EAD have been marked very high by the experts from the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Bulgaria as well; some types of them have been accepted into service with the Bulgarian Army, while acceptance into service of other types is underway. VMZ ?AD traditionally takes part in various events in the country and abroad where it exhibits its latest defence and civil items. It is a regular participant at the Plovdiv International Fair and Hemus Defence Exhibition. VMZ ?AD has its own place in the Bulgarian history as the first and only enterprise decorated with the highest state orders of the Republic of Bulgaria.

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