A video of a man in military uniform wearing a balaclava sitting at a table in a rudimentary weapons workshop was posted by RIA-Novosti on Monday, July 1 and followed up by a report on its website the next day. Described as a munitions expert he displays and describes what he says is the fusing and guidance systems from a US ATACMS missile that was shot down by Russian forces.

The unnamed soldier is shown handling and breaking down one of the components and says, “We can, in principle, analyze the work of the missile systems at all stages of the flight trajectory, that is, the base of correction and how much it can be corrected because it flies along a complex ballistic trajectory.”

He shows labels on what he says is the GPS guidance system, which he claims shows it came from a US Army facility in Alabama.


He goes on to describe individual components of the arming system which he says is highly complicated and suggests this was done for financial rather than necessary technical reasons – to make the missile as expensive to purchase as possible.

The written article cites the opinions of a former Russian Army officer and military analyst Viktor Litovkin who said now the parts were in Russian hands it will allow them to identify and exploit the weapon’s weaknesses. He said Moscow’s scientists would be able to develop and recommend effective countermeasures.

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The British newspaper published four charts, with the first showing estimates from both official and unofficial sources over a certain period.

“The military will use this information to attack these missiles and the launchers that fire these missiles. It is possible that after studying this missile, [Russian forces] would be able to discover the launch areas and location of these missiles faster,” he added.

He said that ATACMS was “no longer a secret,” adding: “We have shown everyone that we have found an ‘antidote’ to the most vaunted and promoted Western types of military equipment, and we are using it effectively”.

What have the Russians got?


While the claims by the Russians that these are genuine parts from an ATACMS missile have been neither confirmed nor denied, careful review of the video confirms that they are more than likely actual parts of the ATACMS system. Attempts have been made on the video to mask some of the written detail on the components, such as serial numbers, which could probably allow the US to positively identify which specific missile they come from and by extension where it was lost.

The larger component sitting on the desk to the right of the masked, unnamed expert is what appears to be the missiles ring-laser gyroscope array. This is a critical element of the missile’s inertial navigation system (INS) as along with its built in GPS it provides essential information on distance, heading, rotation and attitude of the missile in flight cross referenced with other inertial sensing elements and settings.

Screenshot from the RIA-Novosti video of the ATACMS ring-laser gyroscope inertial measurement unit and GPS antenna


The second component which the weapons expert handles and partially disassembles is the fuse assembly for the missile. It is this component that gives up the most revealing detail of the weapon. Despite blurring most of the technical information imprinted on the item enough is visible to confirm that this is an FMU 161/B which confirms the component comes from the M57 missile type. This is the long range, 300-kilometer (190 mile) version of the missile that carries the 214 kilogram (472 pound) high explosive unitary warhead.

Screenshot from the RIA-Novosti video of the ATACMS FMU 161/B fuse assembly

Some milbloggers reacted to the RIA-Novosti video by mocking how excited their so-called expert was over the items he was looking at. One posted the following:

After much prevarication from Washington the first ATACMS were only supplied to Ukraine in April with the RIA-Novosti video confirming that the US has supplied the longest range variation of the missile which has already proven its worth in attacks on warships, command centers, and air bases.

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