The Operational Command ‘South’ of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) said in a Facebook Video Post on September 7 that it conducted 370 missile and artillery strikes on Russian forces, killing more than 100 Russian military personnel and destroying five Grad multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS), two S-400 missile launchers, an S-300 homing radar, and other Russian military equipment and ammunition storage sites.
The AFU Operational Command ‘South’ did not specify where these S-400 launchers were located.
However, according to a US Navy SEAL veteran and a conflict correspondent, Chuck Pfarrer, the two S-400 launchers in question were located in Kherson. At least one of them was identified by Ukrainian forces on September 5 when it was moved to the vicinity of Hola Prystan.
Hola Prystan is a city in the Skadovsk District of the Kherson Oblast where the Ukrainian forces are known to have been conducting attacks using HIMARS MLRS and other artillery and missile systems for the past few days.
The Ukrainian military is attempting to retake the Russian-occupied Kherson region in what is considered the most ambitious military operation by Kyiv in the ongoing Ukraine war.
While there have been several tall claims of victories in Kherson from the Ukrainian side, the latest reports from inside Ukraine suggest the ‘Kherson offensive’ is faltering.
EurAsian Times has not been able to verify the Ukrainian claims, and so far, there has been no documented instance of the S-400 launchers deployed in the Kherson region.
Russian S-400 Launchers Present In Kherson?
The operational missile range of the S-400 system is up to 400 kilometers, and the surveillance range is up to 600 kilometers. It is doubtful that the Russian military would need to deploy their S-400 missile launchers inside Ukraine.
EurAsian Times asked veteran Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter pilot Squadron Leader Vijainder Thakur what he thought about the alleged presence of S-400 missile launchers inside Ukraine.
“From the Russian point of view, positioning S-400 systems within Ukraine would make no sense – The operational gains would be minimal, but the S-400 systems would become legitimate targets for Ukraine to strike using AGM-88 HARM & HIMARS,” Thakur said.
Thakur also pointed out that Ukraine “has repeatedly launched AGM-88 missiles from MiG-29 fighters against Russian AD [Air Defense] assets deployed in the Kherson bridgehead, something that would have been impossible for them to do with S-400 systems deployed within liberated Ukraine [Russian-held Ukrainian territory].”
However, in July, Ukrainian forces reportedly destroyed a Russian 48Ya6-K1 Podlet-K1 low-altitude radar which is said to be used for the S-400 air defense system.
The Podlet-K1 radar was reportedly stationed in the Lazurne area of the Kherson Oblast, located 50 kilometers south of Hola Prystan, on the coast of the Black Sea. It was probably the first documented instance of the radar’s presence in Ukraine.
|48Ya6-K1 Podlet-K1 radar with command vehicles (Vitaly Kuzmin)|
Therefore, if there is any truth to the claims made by the AFU Operational Command ‘South,’ the S-400 launchers in question could have been intended for firing the 9M96E and 9M96E2 ground-to-air missiles, which have ranges of 40 and 120 kilometers, respectively.
Together with the Podlet-K1 radar, which has a maximum detection range between 200-300 kilometers, the 9M96E and 9M96E2 could have been used to destroy low-flying medium-range airborne targets.
When asked about this possibility, Thakur explained that the S-400 is an integrated layered AD system designed to engage a wide spectrum of aerial threats, and it comprises radars, missiles, EW & communication systems, some of which can be operated independently or as part of other systems such as the S-300VM (Antey-2500), that are designed to engage a narrower spectrum of AD threats.
“It’s feasible that components of the S-400 systems are deployed in liberated Ukraine,” Thakur said.
Earlier Claims Of S-400 Failures
This is the latest of several unsubstantiated claims of the S-400 air defense system’s failures against Ukrainian attacks.
In July, the Advisor to the Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister, Anton Gerashchenko, said that S-400 anti-aircraft defense systems could not intercept HIMARS rockets, without providing any specifics of even a single instance of the S-400’s failure against the HIMARS.
Also, shortly before Gerashchenko made his claims, a Ukrainian media portal claimed that the S-400 could not shoot down a single HIMARS rocket either in Donbas, Zaporizhzhia, or Kherson regions.
During an attack on a Russian military facility in Khartsyzk in Donetsk, a HIMARS rocket destroyed the S-400 complex, the report asserted.
That said, it is also essential to consider that this is probably the first time that an Operational Command of the Ukrainian military has officially claimed to have destroyed S-400 launchers. In contrast, the earlier claims came from semi-official or non-verifiable media reports.
Then again, this is a big propaganda war fought between Russia and Ukraine, and EurAsian Times could not verify the claims made by Kyiv in its video post on Facebook.