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US-supplied Himars ‘completely ineffective’ as Russia jams skies with new tech

Himars rocket launchers supplied to Ukraine by the US have been left “completely ineffective” because of Russian electronic jamming systems.

The launchers, which are capable of firing US-made rockets up to 50 miles at Russian targets, are among the casualties of an electronic warfare strategy used by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

A confidential Ukrainian weapons assessment, obtained by the Washington Post, found that Ukraine has been forced to stop using many of the arms supplied by the West because of problems with targeting.

They include the Excalibur GPS-guided artillery shells, which are no longer able to fire reliably at targets.

The Russian jamming system operates from the ground, projecting a “cone” of interference into the sky that prevents weapons from communicating with satellites to guide them towards targets.

The assessment said that Ukraine stopped using the Excalibur shells last year after the weapon “lost its potential” and effectiveness fell to just 10 per cent.

The Himars system, hailed early in the war for its ability to destroy targets with a single shot, has now become “completely ineffective,” according to one Ukrainian military source.

“The Russians deployed electronic warfare, disabled satellite signals, and Himars became completely ineffective,” they said.

The Pentagon and weapons manufacturers are now understood to be looking for a fix that would allow the systems to avoid Russian jamming.

A Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson told the Washington Post: “We work closely with the Pentagon on such matters. In the event of technical problems, we promptly inform our partners to take the necessary measures to solve them in a timely manner.

“Our partners from the USA and other Western countries provide constant support for our requests. In particular, we regularly receive recommendations to improve the equipment.”

Other systems, including the Storm Shadow missile and Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) are less susceptible to jamming.

It comes after Russia successfully disrupted the Starlink satellite network, run by a company owned by Elon Musk, which Ukrainian troops rely on for connection to the internet.

Ukrainian forces have experienced outages on the front line in recent weeks as Moscow has stepped up its electronic warfare operations.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital minister, said in an interview this week that Starlink had previously been resistant to Russian jamming, but that its technology appeared to have become more sophisticated.

He said Putin’s forces had been “testing different mechanisms to disrupt the quality of Starlink connections” using “powerful” electronic weapons.

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