The American site ‘Politico’ reported on Tuesday that four sources had confirmed new American missiles for Ukraine. The missiles are said to have been tested in Florida on January 16 and are called Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB). The rocket is a collaboration between the companies Boeing and Saab Group.
While the previous HIMARS missiles (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) had a range of around 80 kilometers, the new GLSDB has a range that is almost twice as long. They are also a lot cheaper, which means they can be supplied in larger numbers to the Ukrainian front.
That all sounds promising, but is it enough to change anything in the war? “To really make a difference and hit Russia deeply, missiles must reach Crimea,” says Roger Housen, a former colonel. “Crimea is a logistics hub for Russia. A lot of material and ammunition is stored there, but it is also a departure point for aircraft and ships, among other things. The new missiles only reach about halfway to Crimea.”
However, the import of the new missile will have an influence on the conflict. “The GLSDB are fired from a truck, which means that these missiles are very mobile,” says Housen. “The Russians will always be late because you can drive a truck very quickly to another location to launch the next missile.”
The new missiles can also be fired much more accurately. While old rockets had a range of several tens to several hundred meters, with the GLSDB this is only a few meters. “The new rockets are GPS-controlled and therefore very accurate,” says Housen. “They will be very effective at taking out very specific targets, such as a headquarters, bridges or railways.”
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The last, but perhaps greatest advantage, is that these missiles are many times cheaper than, for example, the British-French Storm Shadows. The price of this rocket can rise to more than 2 million euros, while the GLSDB costs ‘only’ 37,000 euros each. This means that a large number of missiles can be delivered. This is a big advantage for the Ukrainians, because the Storm Shadows were only supplied to a limited extent. The missiles could hit targets up to 300 kilometers, but the supply ran out by the end of December.
Response from the Russians
What will be the consequences for the Russians now that Ukraine has these new missiles in its hands? “It is possible that the Russians have their so-called high value targets have to move a little further from the front line, out of the range of the new missile,” says Housen. “These could, for example, be ammunition depots or other crucial supplies. But the GLSDB will never be enough to really make a difference.”
“It is certainly an extra asset in the game, but nothing more than that,” says Housen. “It’s a bit like an ace or a king in a card game. It is an important weapon, but certainly not a wild card. This new missile will not end the war.”