Since mid-June, Ukraine has destroyed with the Himars precision artillery system more than 20 important Russian ammunition depots and command posts previously too far from the front line to be reached by traditional projectiles.

Online videos show spectacular explosions at ammunition dump sites including Luhansk and Nova Kahovka, proof of the precision of US shells.

“The occupiers have already had a good experience of modern artillery. They will have no secure rear base on our lands,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

But these new weapons are also no silver bullet, warn experts, who point out that it will take more weapons and radar systems to be used in conjunction to defeat the Russians.

For Christopher Dougherty, a military analyst at the Washington-based Center for New American Security think tank, the results from the Himars rocket launchers did not disappoint.

But, he says, “it does not in itself disrupt the situation”.

– A gain in precision –

The Himars, for “M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System”, are multiple rocket launchers mounted on light armours, therefore mobile, firing GPS-guided ammunition with a range of approximately 80 kilometers.

Unlike the artillery used so far by both sides in this war, they can hit a precise target, so be used sparingly and reliably.

The Ukrainian army now has 12 launchers, which can be equipped with six projectiles at the same time, and hundreds of ammunition.

In addition to their accuracy, these rockets fly fast and low enough to prevent Russian air defenses from easily intercepting them. And the high mobility of launchers makes them difficult to target.

The Himars system “changes the face of fighting in Ukraine. It allows the Ukrainians to target the Russians from a greater distance and in areas that were hitherto inaccessible to them due to Russian anti-aircraft defence”, this tweeted. week Mick Ryan, a former Australian general.

The credit goes not only to the Himars: since June, Ukraine has received powerful artillery pieces from other allies, such as the French Caesar cannon, and the United States announced last week that they would deliver a thousand more precision shells.

According to Mick Ryan, Ukraine uses these weapons against the weak points of the Russian army: its tendency to store its ammunition near railway depots and in towns fairly close to the front line.

Although the danger of civilian casualties is increased, the precision of these systems helps to limit the risks.

The Russians’ lack of preparation for the arrival of these weapons, which was “no secret”, recalls Christopher Dougherty, is surprising. “The Russians are once again very slow to adapt to frankly quite obvious battlefield issues,” he said.

– A longer range? –

The Russian army will eventually disperse its ammunition and move it away from the front, analysts believe, but this will complicate their logistics.

“Every time we scatter something, then more trucks are needed to deliver the same amount (of material) to those who need it,” explains Christopher Dougherty. However, Russian military trucks have become scarce since the start of the war.

According to Phillips O’Brien, a professor at the Scottish University of Saint Andrews, the Himars are part of a larger strategy aimed at crippling Russian logistics and repelling its air defences.

Achieving this would further expose frontline artillery, the mainstay of Moscow’s offensive in the Donbass, to Ukrainian air and ground forces.

At the same time, kyiv is trying to convince Washington to supply it with ATACMS missiles, compatible with Himars launchers and with a range of 300 kilometres.

Fedir Venislavskyi, a Ukrainian official, confirmed on Wednesday “negotiations at all levels with US representatives regarding the need to provide us with longer-range Himars ammunition.”

The White House refuses to do so for the moment, worried about a possible use to strike targets on Russian territory, which could, according to the American administration, drag the United States and NATO into the war.

The Pentagon has few ATACMS in stock anyway, according to Christopher Dougherty.

What Ukraine really needs besides the Himars, adds Phillips O’Brien, is more protection against Russian air attacks.

“Providing Ukraine with better and more anti-aircraft tools should be as much a priority as providing it with longer range weapons,” he tweeted.