Lumbering M270 launchers fired eight ATACMS missiles with 8.000 cluster bombs at a Russian base in Crimea

The weapons package reportedly included a small number of long-range M39 missiles, also known as Army Tactical Missile Systems, or "ATACMS." On Tuesday evening, the Ukrainian army fired some – possibly all – M39 ATACMS at a single Russian air base in occupied Crimea, reports "Forbes".

The damage was great. Footage from the ground at Jankoy Air Base, 160 kilometers south of the front line, confirmed that the Russians had lost at least four anti-aircraft missile systems belonging to the S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile battery.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry claims the missiles also hit the control center of the S-400 system and four precious air defense radars.

According to the Ukrainian Center for Defense Strategies, a regiment of helicopters and three squadrons of attack aircraft are taking off from Dzhankoy.

However, it is not clear whether any of the planes were damaged or destroyed on Tuesday night.

"The enemy is carefully hiding the number of hit planes," the Ministry of Defense in Kyiv noted.

A video released by the ministry on Thursday appears to show seven or eight M39s flying across the night sky, possibly somewhere around the liberated city of Kherson.

Each missile, with a range of 160 kilometers, carried nearly a thousand grenade-sized cluster bombs in its 13-meter body – meaning as many as 8.000 individual explosions rocked the Russian base.

While the Ukrainian Army's high-mobility artillery rocket systems can launch one two-ton M39 each, the M270 can launch two.

Given that the Ukrainians tend to operate their HIMARS and M270s in platoons of four launchers, it is likely that the M270 carried out the Jankoy attack.

The fast mobile HIMARS missile systems are media darlings in Ukraine, symbols of one of the few technological advantages the Ukrainian military has over the larger and better-funded Russian military.

Tuesday's action was a rare chance for the bulky M270 to shine in the real light.

The first shipment of U.S. M39s arrived in Ukraine last fall, weeks before initial U.S. funding for the Ukrainian military effort began to expire.

Given that the aid package only included 20 or so M39s, it is likely that the delayed March aid package – which the White House paid for with windfall savings from a previous arms deal for Ukraine – included less ammunition. It's possible there were only eight rockets, and that platoon of M270s fired them all at Jankoy in one burst of fire.

If the damage was as bad as the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed, it might have been worth firing all the M39s.

The Ukrainians can take comfort in knowing that it is highly likely that they will receive more ATACMS missiles – potentially many more.

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