Russia deploys mysterious ammunition in Ukraine

US intelligence officials have discovered that the barrage of ballistic missiles Russia has launched into Ukraine contains a surprise: decoys that deceive air defense radars and deceive thermal missiles.

The two devices are about a foot long, have an arrow-shaped, white and orange tail, according to a US intelligence official. The missile is fired by Russia’s short-range Iskander-M ballistic missiles from mobile launchers across the border, when the missile senses being targeted by air defense systems, the official said.

Each is packed with electronics and produces radio signals to jam or spoof enemy radars trying to locate the Iskander-M, and contains a heat source to lure incoming missiles. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence matters, described the devices on the condition of anonymity.

The use of booby traps may help explain why Ukraine’s air defense weapons have difficulty intercepting Russia’s Iskander missiles.

According to US government documents, the Iskander, powered by a solid-fuel rocket engine, can reach targets more than 200 miles away. Each mobile launcher can fire two Iskanders missiles before being reloaded.

Pictures of the ammunition in the form of an arrow began circulating on social media two weeks ago. They have baffled experts and intelligence analysts from open source—and many got it wrong Submunitions of cluster weapons based on their size and shape.

Richard Stevens, who spent 22 years in the British Army as a soldier specializing in explosive ordnance disposal and later worked as a civilian bomb technician for 10 years in southern Iraq, Africa and other areas, said he was exposed to “a lot of Chinese and Russian ordnance, but I’ve never seen this before.” “.

Mr. Stevens posted pictures of the munitions to a site for military and civilian bomb disposal experts that began in 2011, and found that no one else appears to have seen these mysterious munitions before, either.

“Russia uses that size of weapon – the Iskander-M – and a few of them I think, which is why we’re seeing this now,” Mr. Stevens added. “It’s just, post-conflict in the past ten to fifteen years, no one has had a chance to see this.”

The intelligence official said the devices are similar to Cold War booby traps called “breakthrough aids,” which have accompanied nuclear warheads since the 1970s and are designed to evade anti-missile systems and allow individual warheads to reach their targets. The incorporation of devices into weapons such as the Iskander-M that have conventional warheads has not been documented in military arsenals.

Jeffrey Lewis, Professor of Nonproliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, gave an interview. “But we never see them because they’re so secretive – if you know how they work, you can confront them.”

Mr. Lewis said the use of booby traps might indicate some level of neglect or urgency by the Russian military leadership, given that Russia knows they will inevitably be collected and studied by Western intelligence services so that NATO air defenses can be programmed to defeat Iskander countermeasures.

He said it was highly unlikely that the Iskander version sold by Russia to other countries would contain these decoys.

“It suggests to me that the Russians place some value on keeping this technology close to home and that this war is important enough for them to give up on that,” Mr. Lewis said. “They’re digging deep, and they may not be interested anymore, but I would care if I were in their place.”

“I think there are some very passionate people in the US intelligence community right now,” he added.

William J Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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