KYIV ($1=29.43 Ukrainian Hryvnias) — A source in Ukraine, the governor of the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine, Vitaly Kim, claimed that the armed forces of the Russian Federation have changed the functionality of some of their S-300 air defense batteries and are now being used as an attack weapon, a type of surface-to-surface missile system. Kim made this statement on his Telegram channel and Twitter channel.
Every single missile from the air defense system has GPS guidance. Kim said in his video address that the Russian military had so far carried out a dozen ground-based missile attacks using the S-300, but despite GPS guidance, the missiles “remained inaccurate,” without specifying whether all 12 missiles had failed or some percentage of them.
There are various assumptions why the command of the Russian Federation decided to use part of its air defense systems as attack missile systems. According to Western experts, the reasons are the depletion of Russian stocks of cruise missiles used by fighters, bombers, and ships. Another reason, according to them, is Western economic sanctions on Russia, which affect the speed and number of production of new missiles, due to a lack of components and chips. In the east, however, they claim that the reason for such a decision is part of the Russian ideology of waging war. I.e. Russia has tested, or continues to test, various capabilities of the S-300, buttressing its claim with the fact that the S-300 in Syria has also been tested several times in similar functionality.
Some experts suggest a third possibility – if a target appears that is beyond the range of standard artillery and an S-300 air defense battery is in range, it may make sense to attack it with these means instead of requiring more expensive wing strike rockets.
The tests in Belarus
The news that the S-300 can be used as a surface-to-surface missile system should not surprise the public, since similar firings with the S-300 have been carried out in the recent past. Belarus, as The Drive writes, is one of the countries that has documented such tests.
During an exercise in 2011, the Belarusian armed forces used the S-300 to strike ground targets of a “notional enemy”, according to a publication of the Belarusian Navy. Belarus claims that these tests in 2011 were the first that the country conducted, changing the functionality of the anti-aircraft missile system.
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that already in the late 1970s when the Soviet designers began work on the development of the S-300, its essence and functionality were initially based on actions against ground targets or the execution of a ground attack. Over the years, however, this idea fell out of the developed concept of turning the S-300 into an anti-aircraft missile system.
True or not?
At the moment, the claim of the Ukrainian politician cannot be confirmed, but it cannot be denied until there is an investigation into these 12 missile attacks, which Kim claimed used S-300 missiles.
however, there is one fact that should not be overlooked – the very missile that is launched from the S-300 system has an integrated and optimized high-explosive fragmentation warhead designed to shoot down aircraft, helicopters, and almost any air vehicle rather than strike ground targets. All this should be considered as an indicator in the specific case because the effect of the warhead in the air and on the ground will be radically different.
Also, the entire structure of the missile is made to face an air threat and is not designed to play the role of a quasi-ballistic missile – both because of the design, because of the speed, and because of the reliability of accuracy.
One thing is clear, as they write in the West – If Russia has really modified these weapons with GPS guidance, this would mean an even more complex, long-term initiative to use them as quasi-ballistic missiles.