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20 Aug. 2023


Could the Soviet C-200 missile become Ukraine's ATACMS?



Could the Soviet C-200 missile become Ukraine's ATACMS?

Recently, there have been more statements from the russian federation about Ukraine's use of Soviet C-200 missiles for strikes. Find out whether Ukraine has converted outdated missiles into new ballistic weapons and whether this system can replace Western weapons

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The number of explosions in the temporarily occupied territories and in russia is increasing, and there are more and more statements in the public space, particularly from the russian side, about shelling with C-200 missiles. Throughout July, the russian Ministry of Defense reported on the "successful downing of converted Ukrainian C-200 missiles". Ukraine has not confirmed any of these statements, and the C-200 systems were previously decommissioned in 2013 due to their physical and moral obsolescence, but they were returned to service in 2018.

We will analyze whether Ukraine has really modernized outdated Soviet missiles, what technical characteristics the modernized weapons may have, and whether they will replace Western missiles in the article below.

What are these C-200 missiles and how many of them does Ukraine have?

The C-200 anti-aircraft missile systems were developed in the Soviet Union, and they were first put into service in 1967. Over time, the missiles have undergone many upgrades, and the developers managed to increase the range to 300 kilometers. Despite being one of the longest-range air defense systems at the time, the C-200 systems were considered obsolete, in part because they were launched not from trucks but from stationary platforms that could only be moved on rails at special sites and stored in underground storage facilities. These missiles were used not only in russia and Ukraine, but also in a number of Eastern European countries, including Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. 

Ukraine had 5-6 C-200 battalions in service, usually with one battery of 6 launchers per battalion. There is no official information about the specific number of missiles in stock, but most experts say that there were several hundred in storage.

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Could the C-200 have been remanufactured in Ukraine?

Theoretically, it is possible to convert air defense missiles into ballistic weapons, because it is with these systems (C-300 and C-400) that russia regularly strikes at the territory of Ukraine. However, according to experts, this requires solving several problems:

1. Modernize the guidance system from radar to satellite.

2. Increase the warhead, because the designed warhead is capable of destroying only airplanes, but not bridge supports or buildings.

3. Develop a new and mobile launcher with a special device that will charge the missile with fuel. 

There is no official information that Ukraine has actually modernized the C-200 systems, but Ihor Romanenko, former deputy chief of the Armed Forces General Staff in charge of the air defense system, told BBC Ukraine that the Ukrainian military has already practiced using C-200 missiles against ground targets, and they flew at a distance of more than 600 kilometers.

Can the C-200 replace the ATACMS?

If Ukraine has indeed managed to solve all the problems and turn Soviet air defense missile systems into ballistic weapons, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have missiles of their own production that can hit targets in moscow, but can they fully replace Western weapons?

According to military experts, it is impossible to compare these missiles, because ATACMS were primarily designed to hit ground targets and have an accuracy of up to 10 meters, and Ukraine, unfortunately, has to act on the basis of what it has. Therefore, the accuracy of the C-200 missiles is currently questionable.

In addition, the long-range missiles included in the military assistance from Western partners, by agreement, can be used only on the territory of Ukraine (including the temporarily occupied regions), and therefore, to hit military targets in the territory of the russian federation, Ukraine must look for other solutions, and in addition to drones, the modernization of C-200 missiles is likely to be this solution.

We remind you! One of Ukraine's most famous paramilitary brigades, Azov, has returned to the front. Find out where the fighters are performing their missions, what successes they have already achieved, and why this is very bad news for the russians in our previous article.

Photo: Ukrainian Military Portal

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