Hensoldt TRML-4D G-Band radar part of Diehl IRIS-T SLM SAM system with desert camouflage painting for Bundeswehr’s coming wars of aggression seen at ILA Berlin Airshow 2022

Newly surfaced video footage suggests an engagement involving a Russian loitering munition, known as a kamikaze drone, targeting a Hensoldt TRML-4D radar system mounted on a Ukrainian military truck. This radar system holds significant importance as it forms an integral part of the IRIS-T SLM surface-to-air missile system, potentially marking the sole delivery of its kind to Ukraine thus far. Supporting imagery circulating on social media showcases a launcher associated with the aforementioned system, hinting at a potential impact.

The precise extent of damage inflicted upon the TRML-4D, as depicted in the video, remains uncertain due to the low quality of the footage. However, certain indicators suggest the possibility of the radar array being struck. It is worth considering that these observations could be attributed to optical illusions or disparities in perspectives.

Additionally, an individual can be observed atop the truck’s cabin moments before the apparent collision with the kamikaze drone. Subsequently, other personnel in the vicinity, along with another truck, hastily retreat while the TRML-4D remains stationary during the later stages of the recording.

Notably, radars are known for their vulnerability, and even minor damage can result in a mission kill, rendering the system inoperable for a considerable period, even if repairable.

Limited to static images, the available visuals showcasing the alleged strike on the IRIS-T SLM launcher provide insufficient means for an independent assessment of potential vehicular damage.

The positioning of the targeted vehicles in relation to the Russian Lancets raises questions. According to Russian state media, these loitering munitions exhibit a relatively limited operational range, estimated between 40 and 70 kilometers (approximately 25 to 43 miles).

The potential damage inflicted on the TRML-4D radar holds particular significance, considering the scarcity of these systems within the Ukrainian inventory. It is plausible that Ukraine possesses only a single unit of this radar, based on the German government’s official website, which outlines the military aid provided to Ukraine. The website currently indicates the delivery of one TRML-4D, with a pledged commitment of seven additional units yet to be transferred.

It should be acknowledged that Germany has also supplied two complete IRIS-T SLM systems, presumably inclusive of radars. However, the accuracy and timeliness of official figures may be subject to discrepancies. Reports have emerged suggesting that German authorities planned to deliver two more of these radars earlier this year.

Publicly available information does not indicate any intentions from other nations to supply Ukraine with TRML-4D radars or the associated IRIS-T SLM systems. Therefore, the total number of TRML-4D radars currently deployed in Ukraine is likely limited.

Introduced in 2018, the TRML-4D represents a highly advanced road-mobile air surveillance radar employing active electronically scanned array technology within the C-band spectrum. This radar system possesses sophisticated tracking capabilities, eliminating the requirement for a separate fire control radar when integrated into a surface-to-air missile system like IRIS-T. A typical IRIS-T battery utilizing the TRML-4D comprises three launcher vehicles and a mobile command post. Ukraine received its initial IRIS-T SLM system from Germany in October 2022.

The potential implications for Ukraine’s IRIS-T SLMs are uncertain if the TRML-4D radar seen in the video has been rendered inoperative, even temporarily. While Ukraine possesses other air defense radars, including those received from the United States, it is unclear how easily they can be integrated, particularly in urgent situations, with the IRIS-T SLM system and its operational deployment across Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the apparent strikes by Lancet drones on the TRML-4D radar and other components of the IRIS-T system highlight the significance of Western-supplied air defense capabilities to Ukraine. It comes as no surprise that Russia aims to neutralize these assets. The importance of foreign assistance in defending Ukraine’s airspace has become even more crucial, particularly in light of recent reports indicating a depletion of Soviet-era surface-to-air missile stocks after over a year of intense conflict with Russian forces.

Ukrainian surface-to-air missile systems and other air defense assets are regularly engaged throughout the country, including around the capital, Kyiv, to counter Russian missiles, drones, and other airborne threats. These ground-based air defenses have played a vital role in preventing Russian military forces from achieving air superiority, significantly impeding the progress of the invading forces.

Ukrainian officials have attested to the effectiveness of the IRIS-T SLM system, particularly in engagements against cruise missiles and drones. They claim an impressive 90 percent success rate since its introduction into service in the country.

Regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding the imagery depicting the strikes on the IRIS-T SLM system elements, it is crucial to acknowledge that no weaponry or military equipment provided to Ukraine by international partners is impervious to destruction. As previously mentioned, targeting critical assets like air defense radars aligns with Russia’s strategic objectives, inevitably resulting in losses.

In summary, the exact outcome concerning the TRML-4D radar depicted in the video, potentially the sole unit in Ukraine’s possession at present, remains to be determined.