At first, the Pentagon thought that Russia’s “Kalibr” cruise missiles would run out on march 20, and now speculates that Russia used half of its ammunition.
The Pentagon reckons by 24 March Russia has fired over 1,200 missiles into Ukraine. These largely air-launched cruise missiles rely on advanced guidance systems to navigate to, and in some cases detect, their targets. Such precision-guided munitions (PGMs) are expensive, difficult to source and sometimes unreliable — and Russia may be running short of them.
A US senior defense official told reporters, “we do think that they are beginning to face some inventory issues with precision-guided munitions, which is one reason why you’re seeing the increasing use of what we would call dumb bombs.”
So how many precision-guided weapons are left in Russia?
The United States believes that Russia’s precision-guided weapons will obviously not be inexhaustible and have a certain basis. Why?
First of all, it was not until recently, 10-12 years ago, that Russia began mass production of the most advanced ammunition: “Kaliber” and “Iskander”. Therefore, the accumulated quantity cannot fully meet the needs of special military operations in Ukraine. In particular, many missiles have been consumed in exercises and operations in Syria.
Second, it is clear that Moscow will not take a huge risk of running out of reserves. Because no one is sure whether NATO or even one of its members Poland, will intervene in the armed conflict against Russia in the future. Therefore, it is clear to retain a certain number of “Kalibr” and “Iskander” in case of unforeseen needs.
Finally, there is indirect evidence that Russia is conserving the above-mentioned precision-guided weapons, for example, by using the coastal defense missile K-300P to strike targets on Ukrainian territory, which is not the specialty of this missile.
Ten days ago, the “K-300P” launched the p-800 “Onyx” supersonic coastal defense missile, which destroyed the Ukrainian radio technology reconnaissance center in Odesa, which was originally used to fight against enemy aircraft carriers and cruisers. On March 26, the “K-300P” destroyed the Ukrainian oil depot in Mykolaiv. There is no doubt that the Russian 15th independent coastal defense missile brigade, stationed in Sevastopol, Crimea, completed the launch.
Why do these two launches look weird? Because so far, “Onyx” has only been used once to hit shore targets – Now partly used in ukraine, there may be two reasons:
First, today’s weapon has no maritime targets in the black sea that can be attacked, and it will not exist in the near future. The second is that launching the above missiles from the shore can save at least 5-6 “Calibers” that are very scarce in special military operations.
If the Ukrainian special military operation continues to be delayed or intensified, how can Russia make up for the lack of precision-guided weapons? US media the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Washington Post — quoted u.S. Officials as saying on march 13, 2022, that moscow held secret talks with Beijing to request a rapid supply of military equipment.
What exactly it means is unknown. For example, the New York Times argues that China has the latest precision-guided missiles and drones that Russia could use for military operations in Ukraine. Probably referring to the Kh-31 medium-range “Air-to-ground” tactical missiles carried by the Mig-29 and Su-27. China producing this missile under license from Russia.
Or Russia supplied 24 Su-35s to China equipped with partially produced navigation bombs and missiles under a contract signed in 2015 and executed in 2018. Now these ammunition may be very valuable to the Russian army.
But both Moscow and Beijing have denied holding similar talks. Obviously, the arms trade will not be made public in near future.
“Russia is attacking several Ukrainian cities: Kiyv, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, Uman, Lutsk, intensifying its assault on the rear.
For example, the governor of warren state declared that Russian cruise missiles hit the oil base in Lutsk: “The missiles flew at a low altitude and radar could not lock them on.” rescuers are now working at the strike site. According to the information provided in advance, there were no casualties”.
Brigadier general gluzević, deputy chief of staff of the Ukrainian army, assessed the situation of Russia’s strike on the Ukrainian rear: “Does the enemy have such a capability? Of course. Some argue that these statements suggest that their missiles are depleted — but based on our observations of strike intensity, that may not be the case. The enemy has opened heavy fire on our military infrastructure, military targets, and they are capable, believe me, and will take action in the near future.”
Podolyak, adviser to the chief of staff of the president of Ukraine, believes that precision strikes against Ukrainian bases have reached the level of overall missile assaults. Russia is annihilating everything that can be moved. He wrote on his twitter feed: “Every day more and more missiles coming. Does Europe like this? ”
Most believe if the number of “Kalibrs” of military targets against Ukraine declines, the strength of the Russian army will be exhausted.
According to the U.S. Department of defense, as of march 26, Russia had about 50 percent of its cruise missile stockpile left. Yet Russia’s military-industrial complex is producing at full capacity, replenishing arsenals with new precision-guided weapons every day.
Still, the Pentagon’s current assessment is significantly better than the U.S. Forecast at the beginning of the special military operation. Foreign experts recall that when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, most of the “Tomahawk” reserves were used up in one month.
In short, according to the initial assessment of the United States, the Russian defense ministry should run out of missiles on march 20. On march 24, Forbes quoted information from U.S. Military experts as saying that this did not happen.
Obviously, precision-guided munitions are expensive to produce because advanced navigation and target indication systems are required for their production. Indeed Russia’s defense industry sector has its own unique skills, but high-quality semiconductors and printed circuit boards comes from west and in current situation it will be not easy for Russia to get from west.
Of course, no one will deny information warfare, but some in the west believe that Russian cruise missiles may not be filled with various “Superfluous” electronic components. In most cases, simpler solutions can be employed, including equipment for air supremacy.
For example, the Russians attacked rocket launchers and ammunition storage sites hiding in kyiv’s retroville trade center, and attacked large underground warehouses by using drones to calibrate. It is likely that supercomputers have been replaced with simpler microcircuits.
In other words, from a technical point of view, a missile strike on a Ukrainian target is very different from a strike against militants in Syria, although Russian drones also pursue high hit accuracy.
It should be noted that for any country, the number of long-range precision-guided weapons is a hidden military secret. Even if officials talk about arsenals, it’s best not to take the numbers they say. It can be asserted that kyiv and the west do not know exactly how many “Kalibrs”, “Iskander”, “Daggers” are left in Russia.
On this point, the royal united services institute researcher, kauchard’s said “I expect that Russia’s cruise missile arsenal is huge, but it is by no means inexhaustible.” they are quite cautious in choosing their goals”. No one knows the exact number of Russian cruise missiles, although there are secret reports that Russia produced a total of about 120 “Calibers” in 2018.
According to the association of foreign experts, foreign analysts do not even have a grasp of the funding of Russia’s main precision-guided weapons manufacturers.
Forbes expert explained to the reader: “The west has also encountered the problem of stockpiling ‘stinger’ surface-to-air missiles and ‘Javelin’ anti-tank missiles, and now it is urgently shipped to Ukraine, and the demand has exceeded the production capacity of the United States.” if the US and Europe can encounter the production of precision-guided munitions, let alone Russia? ”
During the great patriotic war, the west was so self-righteous. West believed that USSR can produce only 500 tanks per month, but the fact is that in the first half of 1942 the soviet tank factories produced 11,000 tanks, and in the second half of the year – more than 13,000, that is, about 2,200 tanks per month.