It seems that the Ukrainian military secretly received and used long-range ATACMS missiles for the first time (here is a detailed article about these extremely effective missiles). It happened on the night of 17 October, and the target was airfields with Russian aircraft in the temporarily occupied territories of Berdiansk and Luhansk. The Telegram channel of the Centre for Strategic Communications reported that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had successfully attacked helicopters and equipment at Russian airfields.
According to CNN, citing two unnamed US officials, the United States secretly provided Kyiv with the missiles, although it is not clear when exactly this happened. The US State Department said it could not confirm these reports and cautiously referred questions from Western journalists about military operations to the Ukrainian government.
Kyiv has repeatedly asked the Biden administration to provide ATACMS to help attack and destroy supply lines, air bases and railway networks in Russian-occupied territory, and last month the US president said that Washington would provide Kyiv with a small batch of such missiles. Apparently, this has finally happened.
Official sources have not yet commented on whether these were indeed ATACMS missiles, but there is a hint of this in today’s address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “I am also grateful to those who are powerfully destroying the logistics and bases of the occupiers on our land. There are results. I thank some of our partners: effective weapons, as we agreed,” the President of Ukraine said.
The attack on the airfields was surprisingly effective, and therefore caused the Russians great pain. The Telegram channel of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that it was Operation DRAGONFLY, which destroyed nine helicopters of various modifications, special equipment located at the airfields, an air defence launcher and an ammunition depot. As a result, the detonation lasted until 4am in Berdiansk and until 11am in Luhansk. As a bonus, the runways of the airfields were damaged.
5 glorious minutes of destruction at Berdyansk.
Russians claim this was a result of ATACMS. pic.twitter.com/zYIzeK8JW3
— 🌻 Fertilizer Finder 🌻 (@ManiacMagic1) October 17, 2023
Ammunition fragments have already been found at the site, and some experts claim that these are fragments of M39 ATACMS missiles, which have a range of up to 165 km. However, we should still wait for statements from official sources (so as not to rejoice too soon).