Home Radiation New evidence of Ukraine’s use of AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles emerges

New evidence of Ukraine’s use of AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles emerges


Another set of images allegedly showing parts of a US-made AGM-88 high-velocity anti-radiation missile, or HARM, in Ukraine have surfaced online. It comes just days after US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl confirmed that US authorities had sent unspecified air-launched anti-radiation missiles to the Ukrainian military. It is also less than a week after the first images appeared on social media indicating that HARMs were being used against Russian forces in the country. You can read more about all of this and how the Ukrainian Air Force could use these missiles here.

Newly emerged footage shows what appears to be part of the rear body and fin of an AGM-88 missile, which was reportedly recovered recently after it hit a house in the Kherson region of southeastern Ukraine . There has recently been a noticeable upsurge in fighting in this part of the country.

There is no indication that the house was the target, prompting speculation that the missile may have malfunctioned or, based on possible shrapnel holes in the body and fin, may have been intercepted. Although the exact mode of operation may vary, anti-radiation missiles like HARM are primarily designed to zero in on hostile signal transmitters, especially enemy air defense radars, and disable or destroy them.

The AGM-88D and E variants, as well as the still-in-development and significantly different AGM-88G, can also be used in a more general ranged strike role against stationary targets using their inertial navigation system guidance capability assisted by GPS. You can read more about the capabilities of the different AGM-88 variants and the options for employing them that the Ukrainian forces might have here.

An AGM-88 HARM missile. DOD

It should be immediately noted that the markings on the caudal fin, in this case, appear to have been digitally manipulated to some degree. It is not clear if this might reflect a modification to make the actual markings more readable or if they could be fully fabricated.

Real or not, the markings are similar, but not identical to those seen on another apparent AGM-88 tail fin previously recovered from Ukraine. The two examples differ in their so-called Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) codes, which the Defense Logistics Agency assigns to entities that receive or expect to receive contracts or grants, and their serial numbers.

A photo of the apparent BSU-60 series tail fin of an AGM-88 missile believed to have been recently recovered from a house in Ukraine’s Kherson region. by Twitter
A photo of another tail fin from the BSU-60 series believed to have been previously recovered in Ukraine. by Twitter

In terms of size and shape, the fin itself appears to be fully consistent with the BSU-60 series tail fins which were used on all AGM-88 variants except the new AGM -88G.

What we can see of the missile body and its markings seems legit and unheard of. In particular, distinctive raised reinforcement strips around where the missile’s hanger tabs are, a metal channel between these tabs, and hooks at the rear on which to slot the BSU-60 series fin are clearly visible. The words “WARRANTED ITEM” and a thin red-orange band painted around the missile’s tapering tail are also what you’d expect to see on a real HARM.

A glimpse of the exposed rear body section of the AGM-88 believed to have been salvaged from a home in Kherson. by Twitter
Another view of the body section, with the words “WARRENED ITEM” visible. by Twitter
A close-up of the rear ends of two unassembled AGM-88 missiles, still in their carrying cases, showing the hooks where the rear tail fins are attached and the red band around the tail, as well as the channel between the lugs suspension are installed and the “GUARANTEED ARTICLE” stencil further forward. United States Air Force

The suspension lug strips on the body of the missile that would have been recovered from Kherson seem really too pronounced. It may just reflect the specific variant of the missile or just be a light turn.

There is, of course, the possibility that the physical parts of the missile in the newly emerged images are themselves fakes. However, from what we can see, if so, a significant amount of work should have gone into making the components, and to what end?

Anyway, we now have two separate cases where two separate sets of AGM-88 components were allegedly recovered from Ukraine within the span of a week. On top of that, we have official confirmation from a senior Pentagon official that the US government has transferred air-launched anti-radiation missiles to the Ukrainian Armed Forces that can be fired from at least one type of aircraft in the country’s existing inventory.

In addition, these missiles supplied by the United States would have been part of former “withdrawal” aid programs for the Ukrainian armed forces. The President of the United States, currently Joe Biden, has what is called a “collection authority”, allowing the relatively rapid transfer of weapons and other items directly from the United States military inventory to a friendly nation, such as you can find out more here.

Another view of the AGM-88 missiles in their carrying case. DOD

It is possible that Under Secretary of Defense Kahl was referring to the transfer of Soviet-era anti-radiation missiles. that the U.S. government may have at its disposal through its so-called “foreign materiel exploitation” business, or may have otherwise acquired. Yet this seems less likely in the context of a “retreat” and given the other available evidence.

Questions certainly remain about which Ukrainian aircraft may have been configured to fire HARMs and in what modes, as you can read more about in this The war zone room. However, even a relatively crude integration would give the Ukrainian Air Force an important tool to suppress and destroy Russian air defenses. This, in turn, would help reduce threats to the service’s relatively limited number of aircraft and their pilots, and improve their ability to operate more flexibly and efficiently closer to where unfolding takes place. the fights. Ukrainian military aviators have advocated for improving their ability to carry out missions to suppress and destroy enemy air defenses (SEAD/DEAD) on several occasions in the past during interviews with The war zone and elsewhere.

An F-16CJ Viper fighter jet fires an AGM-88 missile. USAF

If Ukraine has and could continue to receive stockpiles of AGM-88, we are likely to see clearer evidence of their use in the days and weeks to come.

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