Ukraine Is Making Sure Putin's Forces in Crimea Pay a Heavy Price

M777 Artillery Like Fired in Ukraine
April 17, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaRussia-Ukraine WarCrimeaS-400ATACMSWar

Ukraine Is Making Sure Putin's Forces in Crimea Pay a Heavy Price

Ukraine has not confirmed the responsibility for the attack on the air base, but Kyiv's forces have intensified their attacks on occupied Crimea.

Videos have been circulating on social media on Wednesday morning that purported to show a fire raging at the Dzhankoi Air Base in northern Crimea after it came under attack overnight. There has been no confirmation on whether any equipment was destroyed, but the facility reportedly was targeted by U.S.-supplied ATACMS, which were pledged to Kyiv last year.

The U.S. Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) was previously used in attacks at the Berdyansk and Luhansk airfields in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. In those strikes, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that the strikes destroyed nine helicopters, an air-defense launcher, vehicles, and ammunition depots and damaged airstrips.

Dzhankoi is a major military hub, and home to one of Russia's largest airfields in Crimea, according to Newsweek. The facility remains a key location for supplying Russian troops up through Moscow-controlled southern Ukraine and the frontlines of fighting on the mainland. Russia annexed Crimea back in 2014.

Ukraine has not confirmed the responsibility for the attack on the air base, but Kyiv's forces have intensified their attacks on occupied Crimea, and have in the past targeted Russian military bases—notably those used to attack Ukrainian positions.

Video: The airfield where Russian helicopters were located in Crimea was hit by ATACAMS

What Could Have Been Targeted?

According to open-source military intelligence reports, the Dzhankoi Air Base has been a staging area for attack helicopters and anti-aircraft missile systems. The facility also housed Su-25 attack aircraft.

“Ukraine's ATACMS strike on Dzhankoi Air Base today was likely one of the most successful strikes, if not the most successful strike of the entire war. ~12 Mi-28, Ka-52 Helicopters were stationed there, in total costing $210 million, and an S-400 was hit too, worth $500 million,” reported the social media account Ukraine Battle Map via a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Though it is unknown if any of the Ka-52 “Alligator” attack helicopters were damaged or destroyed, or if the S-400 was struck—those would certainly have been seen as high-value targets. Already more than three dozen Ka-52s have been shot down in the fighting, and while it is a capable platform, it is seen less as an apex predator and more as an endangered species.

Another S-400 in the Crosshairs

The S-400 Triumf system (known by NATO as the SA-21 Growler) was designed to block airstrikes, including cruise, tactical, and operational ballistic missiles, in addition to intermediate-range missiles.

The air defense system can also be used against ground targets. It launches 40N6 missiles and can hit targets up to 400 kilometers away, even under intensive enemy fire and jamming. It first entered service in 2007.

The S-400's mission set and capabilities are comparable to the U.S. Patriot air defense system. Yet, unlike some Patriot interceptors, the S-400 does not currently employ hit-to-kill ballistic missile defense technology.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

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