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Russian S-400 air defense system destroyed in simulated rocket strikes during US Army-led exercise in Africa

Russian-made S-400 Triumf air defense system was destroyed by the US Army-led exercise in Africa, named “African Lion 2021” in a simulated rocket strike. 

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The simulation tests were part of the ongoing US Army-led exercise in Africa that was taking place in various countries in North and West Africa. The Drive reported. 

The African Lion 2021 exercise comes as Moscow is actively trying to export the S-400 SAM system even to smaller countries and amid continuous concerns within the US military about the general increasing proliferation of higher-end air defense assets in the region. Russia also deployed the S-400 air defense system in Syria for testing purposes.

The US Army’s Southern European Task Force-Africa (SETAF-AF) recently released footage of the mock strikes on the S-400 in a CPX (Command Post Exercise) which is typically an entirely simulated wargame. 

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African Lion is a joint, multinational exercise in Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal linked to the US. Army-led exercise to counter malign activity in North Africa and Southern Europe and increase interoperability with international partners. 

“Two strikes were conducted against those two S-400s,” according to the official video released during the exercise. The video appears to be a briefing on new developments as part of the scenario. “We are still awaiting battle damage assessment (BDA) from yesterday’s strike.” 

Last year, the US Army announced that it would merge US Army Africa (USARAF) command with the US Army Europe (USAREUR) to form a consolidated command to oversee Army operations in both continents. According to Defense News

It is still unclear which type of weapons would take part in the mock exercise of African Lion 2021. AFRICOM has said that unspecified Moroccan fighter jets alongside US bombers would take part in portions of the exercise 2021. In addition, Moroccan Air Force also has advanced F-16 Block 52+ Viper jets that could be employed in the suppression (SEAD) and destruction (DEAD) of enemy air defenses. According to the reports, in 2018, Morocco was looking to acquire AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles (AARGM) to boost the F-16s capability to carry out these missions. 

HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) is developed by Lockheed Martin. The platform is capable of firing short-range ballistic missiles and 227mm artillery rockets. It also took part in other segments of the exercise. 

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According to the released video, the Army showed two C130s landing on an island, carrying the HIMARS vehicle and the unmanned AML. 

After taking the position, HIMARS launched precision strike missiles on a Russian Salva class cruiser at sea. The other launcher fired missiles on the Russian S-400 missile system battery. The autonomous launcher won over mock targets by destroying the Russian most advanced S-400 air defense system at shorter distances using unspecified artillery rockets. 

The AML (Autonomous Multi-Domain Launcher) of M142 HIMARS was also used in the simulation attack. It was a 1.25-hour mock mission led by the Army’s 18th Field Artillery Brigade. Defense News reported. 

The HIMARS M142 is the latest development in the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) family. The new platform has the capability to launch Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), extended range GMLRS rockets, and next-gen Precision Strike Missile (PrSM). 

The new AML had a “drive-by-wire” capability that can autonomously follow a series of waypoints or operate in a ‘follow-the-leader’ mode tethered to another vehicle such as a manned HIMARS launcher. 

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According to Jeffrey Langhout, the Director of the Army’s Aviation and Missile Centre, “One of the biggest things it does is it just physically gives us more room without having to go spend gazillions of dollars to buy a whole new launcher.” 

Analysis:

The African Lion 2021 exercise conducted by US Africa Command with allies and its African partners, seeks to strengthen US Army’s and partner nations capability to promote regional stability and support interoperability. 

This will also help the US to increase its operational capability in Africa to counter violent extremist organizations and counter transnational threats. 

The simulated exercise provides an opportunity for all participating units and nations to enhance readiness by performing their mission essential functions. 

The HIMARS Rapid Infiltration (HIRAIN) mock training will help to strengthen the US Army’s rapid precision strike capability.

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Sources:

  1. The Drive
  2. Eurasian Times
  3. US Military Official Website