US Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles Immediately Reinforce Ukrainian Warships Against Russia

US Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles Immediately Reinforce Ukrainian Warships Against Russia
A view of an RGM-84 surface-to-surface Harpoon missile, immediately after leaving a canister launcher aboard the cruiser USS LEAHY (CG-16), near the Pacific Missile Test Center, Calif.

International Military - Russia's invasion of Ukraine is still ongoing. Russia again launched attacks on cities in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday May 25, 2022. Russian troops attacked with mortar bombings continuously destroying several houses and killing civilians. This was explained by Ukrainian officials, as Russia focused its attacks on the Donbas industrial area.

After failing to capture Kyiv or Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, Russia is trying to seize the remaining two separatist-claimed Donbas provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian troops in an enclave on the main eastern front. In the easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas enclave, the town of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Donets Siverskiy River and its sister Lysychansk, on the west bank, have become important battlefields. Russian troops advanced from three directions to surround them.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office said Russia launched an attack on Sievierodonetsk on Wednesday morning and the city was under constant mortar fire. Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said six civilians were killed and at least eight injured, mostly near a bomb shelter, in Sievierodonetsk. "Right now, with artillery support, the Russian invaders are attacking Sievierodonetsk," Gaidai said.

Ukraine's military said it had repelled nine Russian strikes on Tuesday in Donbas in which Moscow forces had killed at least 14 civilians, using planes, rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles. In the city of Sloviansk west of the Donbas, many residents used what Ukraine said was a pause in the Russian offensive to leave. "My house was bombed, I have nothing," said Vera Safronova, sitting in a train carriage among the refugees.

However, Russia seems to need to rethink if it continues to attack Ukraine. The reason is, Ukraine will soon receive new weapons from Denmark. In the coming weeks, the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet may want to avoid the Ukrainian coast. The reason is, Denmark announced on Monday that it will supply Harpoon anti-ship missiles and launchers to Ukraine.

The US-made Harpoon could greatly enhance Kyiv's ability to attack Russian warships in the Black Sea. The all-weather, over-the-horizon Harpoon was developed by McDonnell Douglas, now Boeing Defense, Space & Security, and uses active radar to fly right over the water and evade defenses.

It is not clear which model Denmark is shipping to Ukraine, but it is reported to be the RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II, which is also capable of hitting targets in port and on the ground with an upgrade from Boeing Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control Systems. The anti-ship missiles could be used to help push Russian warships away from Ukraine's Black Sea ports, allowing exports of grain and other agricultural products to resume.

This week, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters he was "very grateful to Denmark for announcing today that it will provide Harpoon and missile launchers to help Ukraine defend its coast." While several countries have shown a willingness to send Harpoons to Ukraine, it seems no government wants to be the first to actually supply the weapons.

There is likely to be fear of reprisals from Russia if one of its warships is sunk with the Harpoon of each country. supply. Just last month Ukrainian forces managed to sink the Black Sea Fleet aircraft carrier Moskva, a Project 1164 guided-missile cruiser that is considered the most powerful warship in the Black Sea region.

The ship was reportedly hit by two Ukrainian R-360 Neptune anti-ship missiles, while Russia claims it sank in a stormy sea after the fire. The subsonic R-360 is based on the Soviet Kh-35 anti-ship missile, with much improved range and electronics.

The Harpoons could help strengthen Ukraine's defenses in the Black Sea, especially as domestically made Neptune anti-ship missiles are reportedly in short supply. "This is an important and measured step towards increasing Ukraine's operational capabilities and intensity against Russia," Tom Karako, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and director of the Missile Defense Project told Reuters.

He added that the weapons "would run the risk of high-value Russian ships striking Ukraine from the Black Sea or elsewhere." Karako also suggested that when Ukraine starts operating the Harpoon anti-ship missile, it may have to rely on other countries for targeting data to use the system effectively against Russian warships at longer ranges. The Harpoon anti-ship missiles could also threaten the Black Sea Fleet's logistics hub in Sevastopol, making it difficult for Russia to rearm after missile strikes against ground targets in Ukraine.

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