Ukrainian missile shield: PR or investment in defense?

Author : Yevhen Solonyna

Production of tactical missile weapons in Ukraine within the limits set by international agreements, is a qualitative alternative to the means of nuclear deterrence which can reduce the threat from Russia

22:08, 10 January 2017

Read the original article at radiosvoboda.org

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The samples of Ukrainian medium-range ballistic missiles, tested in 2016, may come into production in 2017 and then be delivered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This was stated after missile shootings near the coast of Crimea, by NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov. MPs from specialized committees and some experts point out that some of the new modifications of Ukrainian tactical missiles are capable of hitting targets at a distance of 700 kilometers, and can be a mean for deterring Russian aggression. However, some experts say about the lack of funding for a quick start of Ukrainian missiles production. While the volunteers who supplied the advanced equipment to the Armed Forces of Ukraine earlier, urge the authorities not to chase the "gigantism" in the rocket construction but first of all to provide army with small anti-missile systems, which are now the most useful in Ukrainian Donbas.

Ukraine gradually restores its "missile shield": in 2016 the government and specialized enterprises have prepared everything for the mass production of several major types of missile needed in Ukraine, told Yuriy Bereza, deputy head of the Narodnyi Front political party and the head of the Verkhovna Rada subcommittee on military security.

According to him, some types of missiles provided by the state defense order are already received by the Ukrainian army. As for the rest - Ukraine could resume their full production process without the use of any imported materials or parts. Also, developers were able to increase the distance of flight for the missiles of their own production, said Yuriy Bereza.

"In fact, in the production of tactical missiles we already have mastered big distances - not 300 but 700 kilometers. We are slowly restoring the "missile shield" of Ukraine. And we are not talking only about the "surface -to-air" missiles, but also operational and tactical, class "surface-to- surface." As a missile officer by education I would say that in 2013 we had no solid air defense "shield" in Ukraine, thanks to the previous government and agents of the Kremlin. Now we are creating an integrated air defense system. Second, Ukraine actually resumed production of rocket artillery with radius of action of 300-400 kilometers ", says Yuriy Bereza.

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Sapsan missile system

According to the head of the parliamentary subcommittee on military security, in 2010-2013 years previous Ukrainian government destroyed and sold more than half the charges for Smerch rocket systems and Tochka-U tactical complexes. But now the whole range of models missiles needed for Ukraine is ready for mass production.

Earlier on the topic that Ukraine has established production of missiles for multiple rocket launchers, spoke the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov. Such statements he made after the subsequent stages of testing new Ukrainian missiles during 2016. Ukraine, he said, aims to build a new generation of missile systems that would have outnumbered Russian counterparts. This refers to range of anti-missiles and anti-aircraft to modern systems of volley fire and operational and tactical, with a radius of action of over 300 kilometers.

For example, volley fire systems, which Ukraine have manufactured and supplied to its troops since 2016 – these are guided missiles that are able to maneuver in flight and hit the target, not just "cover" certain areas as Russian counterparts. A reference point of quality for such missiles is NATO standards, according to the National Security Council.

The last test, which took place on December 1 in southern Ukraine near the Crimean coast, even outraged Russian authorities and caused threats to use Russian missiles against Ukrainian launchers. NSDC Secretary stressed that Ukraine was forced to make and test missiles because of the Russian military aggression and the threat of a full-scale invasion. Turchinov explained the missile tests near Crimea, in particular, by the need to restore air defense of Ukraine:

"Missile systems that we tested on December 1 are capable of reliably hitting both air and surface targets. For years, Russian agents and corrupt leaders of the Defense Ministry destroyed air defense system of Ukraine. And these launches is a serious step to restore air defense of our country ", said the secretary of the NSDC.

Early in 2016 President Petro Poroshenko at a meeting of the National Security Council recalled the "Neptune", "Vilkha" and "Sapsan" missiles complexes as priority work directions of Ukrainian defense complex. Poroshenko instructed in the shortest time to complete the development and begin the production of these missiles. The details of this mandate are secret.

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Vilkha missile comlex

"Neptune" – is a set of two cruise missiles that can be made in versions for use on the automotive platform, ship or plane to hit different targets on land, water and in the air. "Sapsan" - is also the operational-tactical missile system, similar to the "Neptune" and "Grim," but it is only in process of development. Whereas existing samples of "Neptune" have been tested since March 2016.

Meanwhile, military experts compare the power and range of "Neptune" with Russian complex "Iskander". So, Oleg Zhdanov notes that modern air defense systems, including Russian, will not be able to intercept these operational-tactical missiles because they have a small duration of flight and high speed.

From his side, the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov stressed that new models of missiles that were tested in previous year, are capable of hitting different targets, including air. In an interview Turchynov acknowledged that in the world there are very few countries with a complete cycle of missiles for various purposes, such as Ukraine. Also the part of missile development in Ukraine, according to the head of the National Security Council, is completely confidential.

Meanwhile, the draft long-term strategy of national security of Russia mentioned the use of aviation cruise missiles against other countries. The co-author of this draft strategy, Mikhail Alexandrov, calls on Russia to use missile weapon against Ukraine to support separatists attack and (or) in case if Ukraine, according to Russian government, does not fulfill Minsk agreements. About these strategic plans of the Kremlin on the use of aircraft and missiles against Ukraine Ukrainian hackers already informed. They also found and published related documents.

Test of Grom-2 Ukrainian missile

In these circumstances, the production of tactical missile weapons in Ukraine within the limits set by international agreements, is a qualitative alternative to the means of nuclear deterrence and such arms are reducing the threat from Russia, says co-director of Razumkov Center international security programs Oleksiy Melnyk.

"Regarding the possible consequences, political and military – the missiles of this class can be a substitute for nuclear deterrence weapons. Medium-range missiles, cruise missiles -is a tool that could hold back Russia regarding its attempts to escalate the conflict. The allowed range of 500 kilometers for Ukrainian needs is enough. But we need not only ballistic but cruise missiles too - this kind of weapon is interesting because of its protection from air defense systems, we are talking about the missiles’ ability to change the trajectory ", -says the analyst.

Ukraine faces difficulties in building its missile shield not only due to lack of finances, but also due to the fact that Western partners do not hurry to cooperate with the Ukrainian side in the defense industry sector, said Oleksandr Turchynov. But some NATO countries already hold talks with Ukraine on the issue of cooperation. Thus, Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas expressed interest in military-technical cooperation with Ukraine.

"We are looking at what our countries can share. Lithuania has some military assignment production. And we know that Ukraine recovers its military industry. Currently the first contacts between the defense and business experts of our countries are undergoing. How will our relations develop - depends on the quality and price of products that can be developed and produced. We know that Ukraine produces armored vehicles using the German engines. And also your country announced the resumption of short-range cruise missiles production. We pay attention to product quality and compliance with NATO standards. So we want that arms that can be produced together were consistent with those that other members of the alliance already have. If you adhere to these requirements - then we'll take a look and analyze."

In December 2016 Ukroboronprom concern reported on the agreement reached with Lithuanian partners of creating joint ventures for the production of weapons and military equipment.

In the same month, Ukroboronprom and Polish company WB Electronics have signed an agreement on cooperation in defense.

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