Watch: Ukraine uses Polish Piorun MANPADS, what are they and how they work
- Ukraine has received Polish Piorun MANPADS
- These are effective against low flying vehicles
- Due to its success, Ukrainians have started calling it St Piorun
Ukraine has been receiving a variety of weapons from NATO members, who are supporting the eastern European nation's war efforts against the onslaught of Russian forces acting under the orders of their president, Vladimir Putin. One of the simpler yet effective weapons is the Polish donated Piorun MANPADS.
What are Piorun MANPADS?
Despite many Western NATO countries ignoring the effectiveness of MANPADS, the truth is that they're effective in shooting down helicopters, drones, attack aircrafts, and cruise missiles.
Compared to the more advanced Javelins, these MANPADS are simple and cheap. While they need some basic training, the Piorun system is still easy to operate.
Moreover, it is not just the MANPADS that are effective, but their very presence changes the dynamic of the conflict. When the enemy knows low flying vehicles can be targeted, they are forced to conduct operations from afar, or from higher altitudes. Thus, even without firing a single missile, the MANPADS can make opponent missions less precise.
They are also difficult to take countermeasures against, since the simplicity and cost make the weapon system widespread, and only one person is needed to fire it. The MANPADS can also be hidden easily.
The Piorun is the successor of the Polish Grom, which has been around since 1995.
The new generation MANPADS can take out targets at 10 to 4,000 meters in altitude, from 6,500 meters away. The seekers have two photodiode sensors, working within two electromagnetic radiations - near-infrared and mid-infrared. The signal gets digitalized instantly, making corrections quickly and analyzing the heat source, while making differences between diversions and targets.
Cooling or dispersing engine plumes as traditional countermeasures aren't effective against the Pioruns. It is tough to jam these and even if a Piorun misses its target, it still detonates, which places objects in close proximity in danger.
St Piorun and its effectiveness against Russian aircraft
Ukraine reportedly used the Piorun first to down a Su-25. Since then, the army has shot down numerous aircrafts including the modern Su-34 frontline bomber and Mi-24/35 helicopter.
The Russian Ka-52 is the latest to fall to the Polish system, as of May 12.
The Polish system's effectiveness has led to social media users refer to the Piorun system as St Piorun, the watchful protector of Ukraine's skies.