The assault of ballistic missiles Russia has shot into Ukraine has a surprise: decoys that deceive air-defense radars and mislead heat-seeking missiles, according to American intelligence sources.
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According to an American intelligence official, the devices are about 1 foot long, shaped like a dart, and white with an orange tail. They are launched by Russia’s Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles, which are launched from mobile launchers over the border, when the missile detects that it is being tracked by air defence systems, according to the official.
Each is jam-packed with electronics and emits radio signals to confuse or spoof enemy radars looking for the Iskander-M, as well as a heat source to attract approaching missiles. On the condition of anonymity, the official, who was not authorised to speak publicly about intelligence matters, described the devices.
The employment of decoys could explain why Ukrainian air defence systems have struggled to intercept Russian Iskander missiles.
According to US government sources, the Iskander is powered by a solid-fuel rocket motor and can reach targets more than 200 miles distant. Before it needs to be reloaded, each mobile launcher can fire two Iskanders.
Two weeks ago, photos of the dart-shaped explosives began spreading on social media. Experts and open-source intelligence analysts had been perplexed by them, with many mistaking them for cluster bomblets due to their size and shape.
Richard Stevens, who served in the British Army for 22 years as an explosive ordnance disposal soldier before working for ten years as a civilian bomb technician in southern Iraq, Africa, and other locations, claimed he had seen “a lot of Chinese and Russian bombs, but nothing like this.”
Stevens sent images of the bombs to a site he founded in 2011 for military and civilian bomb disposal professionals, and discovered that no one else had ever seen these mysterious weapons.
“We’re seeing this today because Russia is utilising that size of weapon — the Iskander-M — and quite a few of them,” Stevens added. “It’s just that no one has had the opportunity to observe this in the post-conflict period over the last 10 to 15 years.”
The devices are comparable to “penetration aids,” which have accompanied nuclear warheads since the 1970s and were designed to avoid anti-missile systems and allow individual warheads to reach their targets, according to the intelligence official. The use of the devices in missiles with conventional warheads, like as the Iskander-M, has never been documented in military arsenals before.
“As soon as missiles were invented, people tried to shoot them down, and as soon as people tried to shoot them down, people started thinking about penetration aids,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. “However, we never see them because they’re top-secret – if you know how they function, you can stop them.”
Given that Russia knows the decoys will inevitably be collected and studied by Western intelligence services so that NATO air defences can be programmed to defeat the Iskander’s countermeasures, Lewis believes the use of the decoys indicates a level of carelessness or urgency on the part of Russian military leadership.
version of the Iskander that Russia has sold to other countries is highly unlikely to have these decoys.
“That says to me that the Russians value preserving that technology close to home, and that this war is significant enough for them to sacrifice that,” Lewis said. “They’re digging deep, and maybe they don’t care anymore, but if I were them, I’d be concerned.”
“I believe there are a lot of folks in the US intelligence community who are really excited right now.”
War in Ukraine: What happened on day 20 of Russia’s invasion
Residents in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, were placed under a 35-hour curfew on day 20 of Russia’s invasion, but that didn’t stop the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic from travelling there by train.
The trip was conceived by the Polish government in response to the EU’s warnings about potential security dangers.
According to BBC Europe editor Katya Adler, the leaders chose to travel by train since flying by Polish military jet could have been seen as extremely provocative by Russia. It was unclear when their train would arrive in Warsaw for the return journey.
Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland stated that history was being made in Ukraine’s capital.
“It is here where liberty confronts the realm of oppression. It is here that our collective future hangs in the balance “He sent out a tweet. Mr Morawiecki also stated that Ukraine could rely on the assistance of its allies.
The prime ministers met with their Ukrainian counterpart Denis Shmyhal and President Volodymyr Zelensky for a briefing, and President Zelensky praised them for their “strong” expression of support.
As civilians hide, they suffer from sepsis and hunger
Russian artillery and aeroplanes continue to bombard Ukrainian cities and villages.
Hundreds of people jammed into the basement of a major public building in Mariupol, an important port city in the south-east, are running out of food, with many also in need of urgent medical treatment, according to the BBC’s Hugo Bachega.
“From shrapnel in the body, some have developed sepsis,” said Anastasiya Ponomareva, a 39-year-old teacher who fled the city at the outset of the war but maintains contact with friends there. “It’s a pretty terrible situation.”
Her buddies are with families who spend the most of their time in the basement. They go upstairs for sunshine now and then, but they rarely go outside. They’ve all left residences that are either unsafe or uninhabitable.
Anti-war activism is in short supply. A television journalist reappears.
The Russian journalist who protested the war in Ukraine on live TV and published a video calling the invasion a crime was fined 30,000 roubles (£214; $280) and freed.
Marina Ovsyannikova, a state-controlled Channel One editor, was arrested on Monday after running onto the stage brandishing a sign that read “no war.” However, after rumours that she couldn’t be reached, fears were raised for her safety.
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