The Ukrainian armed forces have officially introduced the Skif-M anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system, as confirmed by a spokesperson from the Luch Design Bureau during the MSPO 2023 defense exhibition held in Kielce, Poland. Originating from the Luch Design Bureau, a unit under UkrOboronProm, the Skif, also referred to as Stugna-P or Stuhna-P, represents a formidable Ukrainian ATGM system that first emerged in the early 2010s. Notably, the initial guidance device, PN-S, for the Skif was crafted in collaboration with the Belarusian design bureau Peleng, based in Minsk. The nomenclature “Skif” is derived from the Ukrainian word for Scythian, while the alternative names Stugna-P (Russian) and Stuhna-P pay homage to the Stuhna River, a significant right tributary of the Dnipro. The Skif is adept at targeting specific objectives such as weapon emplacements, lightly armored assets, and hovering helicopters, offering two distinct targeting modes: manual steering and automated fire-and-forget, eliminating the need for manual tracking of targets.
The Skif-M, an upgraded iteration of the original Skif system, made its debut in 2022. Operating under the moniker Stugna-P in Ukrainian service, the Skif ATGM has been actively employed by the Ukrainian armed forces since 2018 and has even been exported to eight different countries. Key enhancements incorporated into the Skif-M include a lighter-weight tripod, redesigned traverse and elevation housing, a newly developed lightweight remote-control panel, upgraded batteries to power the launcher and remote-control panel, and the addition of the PN-U sighting and guidance unit (SGU). This SGU is equipped with a laser rangefinder, a feature introduced based on requests from Ukrainian forces. Experience gained from combat situations in Ukraine indicated a low risk of the laser unit being detected, as Russian forces appeared to have limited equipped vehicles with laser warning receivers. Designed to neutralize modern armored targets featuring combined or monolithic armor, including explosive reactive armor (ERA), the Skif exhibits the capability to engage both stationary and moving targets. With a versatile operational range, it can strike from as far as 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) during daylight and as close as 100 meters (330 feet).
The Skif-M continues to utilize the same 130mm or 152mm R-2 series missiles as its predecessor, with options for tandem high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) or high-explosive fragmentation (HE-Frag) warheads. Tandem charge HEAT RK-2S warheads exhibit the potential to counter medium-weight main battle tanks like the T-90A, boasting penetration capabilities of 800 millimeters (31 inches) behind ERA. Meanwhile, RK-2M-K warheads are designed to take on heavy main battle tanks such as the M1A2 Abrams, with penetration reaching 1,100 millimeters (43 inches) behind ERA. The system also includes high explosive (HE) fragmentation RK-2OF and RK-2?-OF warheads for attacking infantry positions and light armored vehicles, making it a versatile weapon platform capable of adapting to various scenarios. The system’s thermal imager can be employed for nighttime operations, and it’s worth noting that the Ukrainian military currently utilizes only the 130mm caliber missiles, as the 152mm missiles were primarily designed for the export market to compete with the Russian Kornet-E/EM system.