US Marine Lance Cpl. Eddy Simples, mortar gunner, Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, adjusts the sights on an M120 120mm Mortar System, Feb. 4, 2014. US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jamean R. Berry.
The United States will send $1 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, including rockets for both advanced air defense systems and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, that have been so effective for Ukraine that Russia has lied about destroying them.
The package is the largest arms package yet announced under President Joe Biden’s Presidential Drawdown Authority, in which the Pentagon can ship weapons straight from US military stocks to a friendly nation at war. In announcing the package, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said, “This is the largest single drawdown of US arms and equipment utilizing this authority to date.”
Among the systems headed to Ukraine are rockets for HIMARS, the mobile, truck-mounted rocket launchers that can hit targets up to about 43 miles away when outfitted with a six-pack of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems missiles, or GMLRS. Kahl said the package includes GMLRS rockets but no new HIMARs launchers. The US has already sent 16 HIMARs to Ukraine.
“[GMLRS] is kind of the equivalent of a precision-guided airstrike,” Kahl said.
Spc. Mateo Valadez, a mortarman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company “Hoplites,” 2nd Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, prepares to launch a 120mm mortar round upon the command “fire” during direct-lay live-fire training at Bucierz range, Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland, Sept. 2, 2021. “My favorite part of the job is the physical aspect,” Valadez said. “All our rounds are about 35 lb., so when we get a multiple-round fire mission, you pretty much dig deep and hang everything you’ve got.” (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Reynolds/RELEASED)
Since receiving the launchers, he said, the Ukrainians have been able to more reliably hit command-and-control nodes, sustainment and logistics hubs, and key radar systems.
Kahl would not specify how many GMLRS missiles will be shipped with the latest round of military aid, but he said the United States has provided Ukraine with “multiple hundreds of these systems in the past few weeks.”
The arms package also includes missiles for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, an advanced air defense system. NASAMS fires a ground variation of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM. AMRAAMs are the US’s front-line air-to-air combat missiles, carried by nearly all US fighter planes.
The Pentagon promised on July 1 to send two NASAMS systems to Ukraine. Monday Kahl said the NASAMS are “in the pipeline” and will probably arrive in the country in the next few months.
Soldiers assigned to the 65th Field Artillery Brigade fire a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during a joint live-fire exercise with the Kuwait Land Forces, Jan. 8, 2019, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The US will send an undisclosed number of HIMARS to Ukraine as the Russian invasion enters its fourth month. US Army photo by Sgt. Bill Boecker.
Other materiel in the package includes:
Since Biden came to office, the US has committed approximately $9.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.
Jenna Biter is a staff writer at Coffee or Die Magazine. She has a master’s degree in national security and is a Russian language student. When she’s not writing, Jenna can be found reading classics, running, or learning new things, like the constellations in the night sky. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the military? Email Jenna.
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