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​Exceptional Inventiveness of Ukrainian Military: RBS-17 Anti-Ship Missile Takes Down a Ground Target (Video)

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RBS 17 missile system / Open source illustartive photo
RBS 17 missile system / Open source illustartive photo

RBS 17 is a Swedish anti-ship missile system with Hellfire missiles

Servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine showed how they used the Robot 17 (RBS 17) missile system, supplied to Ukraine this summer, in a unique way.

The system was designed to destroy small warships with the Swedish analog of the AGM-114 Hellfire with laser guidance, adjusted so it can be launched from the surface; it has a firing range of 8 km. However, the AFU managed to destroy a ground target with it.

Read more: Ukraine Will Get RBS-17 Short-Range Anti-Ship Missile System from Sweden

The challenging part is the laser guidance. For projecting the laser beam onto the target, a special designator is used. Usually, there is no issue with it, because a firing squad deploys as a single unit to the point and coordinates the tasks: a soldier designates the overwater target, then a missile is launched, it locks on the target and destroys it with its 8-kg warhead.

But in conditions of warfare on the ground, troops have to deal with limited visibility of the target and still properly designate it. And it looks like the Ukrainian military managed to find a solution. Perhaps the designation was made not from the surface, but by a drone with a laser pointer.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine already has unmanned systems that can perform this task, for example, Puma UAVs from the United States (the first batch received in April 2022). This way one can launch an RBS-17 missile on a target beyond the line of sight.

Puma LE Unmanned Aerial System has a Mantis i45 sensor which is capable of target designation with a kaser beam / Open source illustrative photo

Ukraine as well received other drones capable of this kind of guidance for semi-active laser guidance and most likely some other advanced means of designation. In other words, Ukraine is gradually building up infrastructure for providing support to the most widely used type of precision weapons which use laser homing.

As a reminder, Norway, too, sent its AGM-114 Hellfire missiles with the same type of guidance to Ukraine in September. Moreover, this missile is one of the most mass-produced, with tens of thousands of units made over the years of service with multiple countries.

Read more: ​US Military Assistance for Ukraine: Puma UAS and Laser-Guided Rocket Systems in the Batch as Mortal Mix for russian Troops