This Week in the Russia-Ukraine War (March 10)

Rheinmetall KF51 Panther. Image – Rheinmetall Defence

A snapshot of recent news from sources around the world on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Rheinmetall is investigating the possibility of building an armored vehicle facility in Ukraine.  The proposed factory could produce 400 KF51 Panther tanks a year.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service released a report discussing potential issues related to Ukraine’s reported request to the U.S. for large unmanned aerial systems like the MQ-9 Reaper. Potential concerns include questions about survivability in a contested environment, the potential for Russia to recover U.S. technology, and the cost to transfer the systems.

Two Ukrainian pilots are reportedly in the U.S. for a training assessment. Another 10 pilots may arrive as soon as this month.  The project has two objectives: 1) to assess the pilots’ current skills to determine how they can be improved, and 2) to determine how long it would take to establish a formal training program for Ukrainian pilots, potentially including training on the F-16.

Ukrainian officials have challenged U.S. defense manufacturers to send their equipment to Ukraine to be tested on a real battlefield. Ukraine has long been calling for additional weapons, ranging from fighter jets to long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), to electronic warfare equipment and drones that can defend against jamming systems.

U.S. generals and Ukrainian military officials met in Germany for tabletop drills to evaluate battlefield decisions ahead of anticipated spring offensives from Russian forces.

Ukraine has developed and used the Vilkha-M rocket, which is a modified Soviet BM-30 Smerch multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). The 25-foot weapon has a longer range and payload than the U.S. Guided MLRS rockets.

Intelligence reports suggest Russian forces are running low on ammunition, and that some soldiers have even resorted to fighting with entrenching tools.

Ukraine has reportedly implemented a phone hotline that Russian soldiers can use if they wish to surrender when they reach the front lines. Ukraine has not disclosed how many troops have actually used the hotline.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Russian forces would have an “open road” to parts of eastern Ukraine if the town of Bakhmut falls.

At a recent informal meeting of EU defense ministers, the ministers  announced their continued military support of Ukraine and agreed to quickly boost ammunition production.

Iran has allegedly supplied ammunition to Russian forces.  Two Russian-flagged ships with some 200 cargo containers full of ammunition were tracked leaving an Iranian port and arriving in Russia.

The first Patriot air defense systems have already arrived in Ukraine, according to Polish officials.  The U.S. promised to supply Patriot surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to Ukraine as part of an assistance package.

The Ukrainian military is using inflatable decoys to counter Russian strikes.  Inflatech, a Czech company, produces more than 30 different inflatable decoys that can simulate tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft and howitzers.

In another wave of attacks, Russian missiles and drones have hit targets inside Ukraine.  This operation included the firing of six Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.  Overall, this attack included at least 81 missiles and eight attack drones.

Russia recently conducted a massive air strike on Ukrainian targets.  Western officials say the gap between attacks will likely increase as Russian production lines struggle to provide the needs of this war.  Newly produced missiles are not arriving in a timely manner.

Ukraine is seeking Mk 20 cluster bombs from the U.S., but Kyiv isn’t interested in using the weapons as originally intended. Rather, Ukraine wants to disassemble the munitions and equip the bomblets contained within on small drones.

The U.S. has confirmed Ukraine is now able to utilize Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER) precision guided bombs.

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