According to the writer and historian Mike Spick, a specialist in air warfare, quality would take precedence over quantity. According to him, during the Second World War, 5% of pilots were responsible for 40% of aerial victories. Their talent took precedence over everything else.
Even if the adage is not always true, it seems to be true on earth this time, in the conflict between Ukraine and the Russian invader since the end of February 2022. article signed by David Ax for Forbes returns to the predominant role played by a Ukrainian paratrooper, with a particularly well-stocked hunting list.
Nicknamed “Gagauz” (probably in reference to the people of Gagauzpresent in a minority in a territory shared between Moldova and south-west Ukraine), this member of the 79th Air Assault Brigade of the Ukrainian army has become a benchmark in the use of American FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles. Thanks to them, and to his partner since the handling of the missile launcher is carried out in pairs, he claims to have destroyed more than forty Russian vehicles – tanks, armored personnel carriers MT-LB or military engineering vehicles – and damaged about twenty others.
The man is not the only one member of the 79th Air Assault Brigade to be equipped with a missile launcher, but its results surpass all others. In his article, David Ax even says of himself that he “could be the most dangerous soldier for the Russians”. His hunting area? A single sector from the foreheadaround the mining town of Vouhledar, in Donestk Oblast (eastern Ukraine).
At the start of 2023, it was there, during the Battle of Vouhledar, that Russia suffered a bitter failure, during an offensive which resulted in the loss of at least 130 armored vehicles in just three weeks. Most certainly partly because of this elite (missile) shooter. “I do my job efficiently and I have learned to love it”confides in particular “Gagauz”, in a video published on January 23 on Telegram by the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces, then picked up and translated by Estonian analyst @wartranslated on X (formerly Twitter).
Javelin operator “Gagauz”, commander of the ATGM team of the 79th Brigade, destroyed over 40 enemy vehicles. He says he will continue working until he can no more. “Once Russians get pushback, they forget their combat tactics”.https://t.co/WWHyhIRzhb pic.twitter.com/hvIKlD1Prc
— WarTranslated (Dmitri) (@wartranslated) January 28, 2024
“I have a taste for blood”
First introduced to the FGM-148 Javelin in the summer of 2022, “Gagauz” would have taken it over immediately. “I was told to get ready, I saw the target and I shothe describes, laconic. I touched it, then I got a taste for blood.” In a year and a half, it would have affected at least three vehicles per month on average. Counting the leave away from the front, “Gagauz” could well be hitting one vehicle per week: the perfect propaganda tool for the Ukrainian army.
Operating in pairs around the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile launcher, he detailed their mode of operation, in another video posted on the networks by the 79th air assault brigade and republished by @wartranslated on December 18. “We always work in pairshe explains. When I find [et] spots the target, I give the order to the second. He prepares the rocket while I continue to follow the target, then I fire.”
Anti-tank crew of the 79th Air Assault Brigade, professional Javelin launchers. 40+ vehicles destroyed in total. Call sign “Gagauz”. pic.twitter.com/k2d5sajqiA
— WarTranslated (Dmitri) (@wartranslated) December 18, 2023
“Then we immediately return to hide in a shelterhe continues. […] It’s a very dangerous job. As soon as our position is spotted, the enemy starts firing back at us.” And this, as he states, with any means: firearms, tanks, artillery missiles and even aviation missiles or rockets fired by the multiple system of Soviet origin BM-30 Smerch.
Supplied mainly by the United States – which alone offered 10,000 to Ukraine – the FGM-148 Javelin are equipped with an infrared sensor and have with a maximum range of 2,500 meters. An effective weapon therefore, but one of which “Gagauz” and his companions in the Ukrainian army could soon be deprived, if the American aid currently frozen by the Republican members of the United States Congress is not released quickly.