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Ukraine’s national guardsmen down Russian cruise missile with machine guns

A mobile fire group of Ukraine’s Pechersk Brigade of National Guard shot down Russian cruise missile with machine gun fire in Kyiv Oblast during Russia’s massive 29 December missile attack against Ukraine.
Russian cruise missile, possibly the Kh-101, reportedly destroyed by soldiers of Ukraine’s Kyiv-based National Guard unit with small arms fire on 29 December 2023. Photo: Facebook/27 Печерська бригада Національної гвардії України

During Russia’s massive missile attack against Ukraine on 29 December, a mobile fire group of machine gunners of the 27th Pechersk Brigade of Ukraine’s National Guard shot down a Russian cruise missile using small arms in Kyiv Oblast, the Brigade reported on Facebook.

“After detecting the target moving towards Kyiv, the National Guard opened fire with machine guns,” according to the report.

The Brigade says that the examination of the missile’s wreckage showed that the small arms fire caused an explosion of its fuel tanks, which led to the missile losing control and altitude. The missile crashed, but its warhead did not detonate.

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“The National Guard’s fire teams are designed to counter air strikes, including shooting down missiles and kamikaze drones. Combined with the efficient work of air defense units, this allows us to increase the success rate of shooting down air targets and thus save infrastructure and the lives of our citizens,” the Pechersk Brigade noticed.

The National Guard does not mention the missile type. However, according to the December 29 report by the Air Force, Russia launched 90 air-based Kh-101/Kh-555/Kh-55 cruise missiles, of which the air defenders destroyed 87. Additionally, Russia launched Kh-22/Kh-32, Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, and ballistic missiles of several types during the attack, but Ukraine did not claim successful interceptions of any of those. 

Military: Ukraine downs 114 of 158 missiles and drones during Russia’s “most massive” air attack

Given its high velocity, the cruise missile is a hard but not impossible target for small arms. Ukrainian forces occasionally achieve interceptions using machine guns.

  • On 15 March 2022, on the all-out war’s 20th day, Vinnytsia Oblast head Serhii Borzov said the Russian Kh-101 cruise missile was downed with machine gun fire two days earlier in Vinnytsia Oblast.
  • On 23 November 2022, a soldier of the Territorial Defense shot down a Russian missile with the DShKM machine gun in southern Ukraine’s Odesa Oblast.
  • During a massive Russian missile attack on 16 December 2023, a territorial defense soldier managed to shoot down one of the missiles using a machine gun in Kyiv Oblast, his commander told AP.
  • A year ago, during a Russian missile attack in December 2022, a machine gunner of the Territorial Defense’s Fastiv 114th Brigade reportedly shot down a Russian Kh-101.

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