The Russians didn’t miss – they just hit the wrong targets.
According to the Washington Post, the Ukrainian military built wooden decoys of the “game-changing” HIMARS Advanced Rocket System to entice the Russians to retaliate.
“[The Russians] claimed to have hit more HIMARS than we even sent,” a US diplomat told the newspaper.
Russian media has claimed several successful strikes on US-made artillery systems since they began appearing on the battlefield in June.
In reality, however, it looks like the Kremlin wasted valuable precision ammunition on plywood.
During the first weeks of the wooden decoy deployment, the Russians fired at least 10 Kalibr cruise missiles at the mock rocket launchers, a senior Ukrainian official told The Washington Post. These successful dupes led to an expansion of the program.
Through the lens of a Russian unmanned aerial vehicle transmitting targeting information to missile cruisers in the Black Sea, the wooden HIMARS is indistinguishable from reality.
“When the drones see the battery, it’s like a VIP target,” the official said.
In addition to protecting Ukraine’s real HIMARS systems, the decoy scheme has another advantage: it wastes Russian ammunition.
Plagued by global sanctions and embroiled in a longer-than-expected war, Russia is short of precision-guided munitions, Western analysts say.
And as Rob Lee, a military analyst at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told the Washington Post, “A Kalibr missile launched at a fake HIMARS target in a field is a missile that cannot be used against a Ukrainian city.”