Russia Destroys More Than 100 HIMARS Missiles: Defense Ministry

Russia has reportedly destroyed more than 100 U.S.-made missiles for M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that were sent to Ukraine.

The missiles were destroyed by Russia's Aerospace Forces, comprising the air and space branches of its armed forces, in a strike on a Ukrainian ammunition depot on July 24, according to the Russian state-controlled news site RT, which cited a Wednesday report from Russia's defense ministry. The ammo depot was located near a settlement called Lyubimovka in Ukraine's Dnepropetrovsk region.

In addition to the HIMARS rockets, Russia's defense ministry purportedly said that up to 120 Ukrainian troops guarding the depot, technical specialists and what RT described as "foreign mercenaries" were killed in the attack.

Newsweek was not able to independently verify the Russian report or access the website for the Russian defense ministry in an attempt to view the information firsthand. The defense ministries of Russia and Ukraine were contacted for confirmation and comment.

The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center describes M142 HIMARS as a "full-spectrum, combat-proven, all-weather, 24/7, lethal and responsive, wheeled precision strike weapons system." U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin's announcement last week that four additional HIMARS would be sent to Ukraine brought the total number of the weapon systems provided or promised to the war-torn country up to 16.

It was not immediately clear how significantly the alleged loss of the more than 100 HIMARS missiles would impact Ukraine as it continues to fight against Russia's advances. Both Ukraine and the U.S. have been touting the country's use of the HIMARS, which retired U.S. Army General Mark Hertling described last week as a "game changer" in the ongoing war.

A senior U.S. Defense Department official told a background briefing at the Pentagon earlier this month that the HIMARS are having a "significant impact on what's going on, on the front lines." The official, who was not named, also said that Ukraine's army was "spending a lot of time striking targets like ammunition, supplies, other logistical supplies, command and control," which have "a direct impact on the ability to conduct operations on the front line."

Russia Reports Destroying HIMARS Rockets
Russia has reportedly destroyed more than 100 U.S.-made missiles for M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that were sent to Ukraine. Above, U.S. military personnel stand by a M142 HIMARS during Saudi Arabia's first World Defense Show, north of the capital of Riyadh on March 6. Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty Images

This assessment was backed up by General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He stressed during a news conference last week that Ukrainians have been "effectively employing" the rocket launching systems, "with strikes against Russian command and control nodes, their logistical networks, their field artillery near defense sites and many other targets."

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said while speaking on national television Monday that his nation's military used U.S.-supplied HIMARS to take out 50 Russian ammunition depots. A senior U.S. defense official also recently told reporters that Ukraine has used HIMARS to destroy more than 100 "high value" Russian targets such as ammo depots, long-range artillery positions, command posts, air-defense sites and radar and communications nodes.