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ATACMS it Was: New Photos Show the Missile Engine Found on Ruins of Russian Air Base in Berdiansk

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Illustrative photo: ATACMS launched from an M270 artillery rocket system / Photo credit: South Korea Defense Ministry via Associated Press
Illustrative photo: ATACMS launched from an M270 artillery rocket system / Photo credit: South Korea Defense Ministry via Associated Press

New photos leave no room for doubt that the long-awaited American tactical ballistic missile is already being used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine

After a devastating strike inflicted by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the night of October 17th to the russian airfield in occupied Berdiansk, southern Ukraine, the prevalent theory was that the weapon of attack was no other than the Army Tactical Missile System, or simply ATACMS.

In fact, the russian military bloggers were the ones to assume that, as confirmation they provided photos of submunitions:

Read more: ​Ukraine's Military Hit Russia's Army Aviation Airfields, Enemy Howls and Complains About ATACMS
Photos of submunitions shown by Russian military bloggers
Photos of submunitions shown by Russian military bloggers / Open source photos

However, despite this submunition was identified by online enthusiasts as M74, the only known bombelts used in M39 and M39A1 variants of ATACMS missiles, there was room for doubt.

M74 and the bomblet found in Berdiansk
M74 and the bomblet found in Berdiansk / Open source photos

The reason is that this shape of cluster bomb submunitions is quite popular all over the world, even in russia. For instance, there is the RBK-500 air-dropped bomb with ShOAB-0.5 submunitions with a similar appearance.

ShOAB-0.5 bomblet
ShOAB-0.5 bomblet / Open source illustrative photo

However, the following imagery clarifies the matter by providing direct evidence – the engine that fell off the missile. The inscription says this is an M39 (MGM-140A) that has a declared range of 165 km and carries 950 M74 submunitions. This particular missile was produced in November 1996.

M39 ATACMS engine found in Berdiansk
M39 ATACMS engine found in Berdiansk / Photos shared by russian military bloggers

Finally, the President of Ukraine confirmed that ATACMS has arrived, as he vaguely noted: "Today I am especially grateful to the United States. Our agreements with President Biden are being implemented. And they are being implemented very accurately – ATACMS have proven themselves," without specifying whether it has anything to do with the strike on the air base in Berdiansk.

For a reminder, the supply of ATACMS has not been officially announced, neither by United States officials, nor the Ukrainian side, although Western media insisted that the decision had been made weeks before this incident, citing anonymous defense officials.

Therefore, Ukraine now can use ATACMS, it's a fact. A question remains though, whether the United States has only sent the M39 version of the missile with a maximum range of 165 km or the 300-km alternatives with cluster and high-explosive unitary warheads have arrived, too.

Read more: Ukraine's HIMARS and M270 will Fire Twice as Far with New GLSDB Precision Bombs Delivered This Winter