British Intelligence believes that Russia’s loss of combat helicopters due to Ukraine’s first use of ATACMS on the airfield in Russian-occupied Berdiansk will significantly affect the capabilities of Russian invading forces in this frontline area.
This is stated in an intelligence review by the British Ministry of Defence of 20 October.
Ukrainian ATACMS strike destroyed Russian combat helicopters on the occupied airfields
On 17 October, “several” helicopters and air defence systems were likely destroyed due to Ukrainian strikes with ATACMS long-range missiles on Russian military airfields in the occupied cities of Berdiansk and Luhansk.
“Although the extent of the damage has not yet been confirmed, it is likely that nine Russian military helicopters were destroyed in Berdiansk and five in Luhansk. Ukraine claims to have used the US-provided ATACMS long-range tactical missile for the first time,” the review notes.
The analysts write that so far, the participation of fixed-wing aircraft in air support of Russian forces has been minimal, and Russian defence has increasingly relied on helicopters.
The Russian invading troops used the airfield in Berdiansk as a forward base on the southern section of the frontline for both logistics and offensive and defensive capabilities.
This loss will impact Russia’s ability to conduct operations in the Berdiansk area
“If these (losses) are confirmed, it is very likely that they will impact Russia’s ability to conduct defence and further offensive operations in this area of the front. And given the current burden on the Russian defence industry, if the losses are confirmed, it will be difficult to replace any of the vehicles in the short and medium term,” the Intelligence report said.
According to the analysts, this also means even greater workloads for the remaining Russian army’s aircraft and pilots. At the same time, the troops and equipment are almost certainly exhausted/worn out from intensive flying.
“There is a realistic possibility that this strike will once again force Russia to move its operational bases and control points further away from the front line, increasing the burden on the logistics chain,” the Intelligence said.
Satellite photos showed damage at the Russian-held airfield
Satellite photos dated 18 October show the damage at the airfield near occupied Berdiansk, where the Ukrainian Forces had destroyed several Russian helicopters the day before. The source of the photos is Planet Labs, a project of Radio Liberty’s Schemes.
On the afternoon of 17 October, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces confirmed a night operation in Russian-occupied Berdiansk and Luhansk, which resulted in “significant losses” of the Russian invading troops.
Ukrainian Army Commander-in-Chief showed ATACMS launches and thanked partners for their support
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said the Ukrainian military had attacked Russian helicopters and equipment at two airfields. Subsequently, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi showed the launches of ATACMS ballistic missiles, thanking the Ukrainian soldiers “for their service” and their partners “for their support”.
In its previous review, British Intelligence said that the Kerch Bridge, linking Russia to the occupied Crimea, restored by Russia after damage, will only provide limited Russian transportation to the occupied Ukrainian peninsula and require significant Russian resources to protect it from new attacks.
The Ukrainian Army will likely crush more devastating ATACMS strikes on the Russian military positions in the deep rear soon. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the United States would regularly supply long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine.