- Russia is likely removing the nuclear warheads from aging nuclear cruise missiles and firing the unarmed munitions at Ukraine. Open source imagery shows wreckage of an apparently shot-down AS-15 KENT air launched cruise missile (ALCM), designed in the 1980s exclusively as a nuclear delivery system. The warhead had probably been substituted for ballast.
Although such an inert system will still produce some damage through the missile’s kinetic energy and any unspent fuel, it is unlikely to achieve reliable effects against intended targets. Russia almost certainly hopes such missiles will function as decoys and divert Ukrainian air defences.
- Whatever Russia’s intent, this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles.