Artillery vehicle

New US aid to Ukraine targets Russian artillery

WASHINGTON — A new $775 million military assistance package for Ukraine marks the first time the United States has sent ScanEagle drones, to target artillery, as well as 105mm howitzers and anti-tank rounds to the Carl Gustaf rifle in the fight against Russia, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The latest package of US aid to Ukraine also includes the AGM-88 high-velocity anti-radiation missile, which will allow Ukrainian forces to target Russian radars in artillery-focused warfare. This disclosure marks the first time the Pentagon has discussed in detail its supply of high-velocity anti-radiation missiles to Ukraine.

“Ukraine has successfully used these missiles. They successfully integrated them into Ukrainian aircraft. And it allows Ukraine to seek out and destroy Russian radars,” a senior defense official told reporters. The Pentagon provided the official with comments on condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon is sending 15 ScanEagles – a small low-altitude, long-endurance drone made by Insitu and used for reconnaissance, which is intended to help guide Ukrainian artillery targeting. Other firsts included 16 105mm howitzers (with 36,000 artillery rounds) as well as 1,000 tube-launched and optically tracked anti-tank missiles for Carl Gustaf weapons sent by other allies.

The aid also includes 40 anti-mine and ambush protected vehicles for demining, 50 Humvees and 1,000 Javelin anti-tank weapons.

About six weeks after the Pentagon announced it would support a new contract for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System for Ukraine, delivery of the weapon is expected within the next two to three months. The system is co-produced by the Norwegian Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace as well as the American Raytheon Technologies.

The aid comes days after the United States announced it was sending $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine. This assistance included more Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions for the 16 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, provided by the United States so far.

Although the Pentagon did not see Ukrainian forces using HIMARS to retake a significant amount of territory, they did shell and weaken Russian positions. “You see this hollowing out of Russian forces in Ukraine, but with implications for their longer-term sustainability,” the defense official said.

The announcement comes after Russia and Ukraine accused each other of bombing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, stoking international fears of a catastrophe on the continent.

“We are very concerned about military operations in or near any of the new Ukrainian nuclear facilities and are very concerned about any reports of damage to power lines at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in particular,” the official said. of the defense. “We have been very clear that fighting near a nuclear power plant is dangerous, irresponsible. And we want the fighters and Russia to operate with extreme caution and not take any action that would result in a potential radiological release. »

The new package is part of the $40 billion in security and economic aid passed by Congress and signed into law in May. This is the 19th batch of arms and military equipment delivered to Ukraine since the war began on February 24.

Joe Gould is the Pentagon’s senior reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He was previously a congressional reporter.