WASHINGTON — The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it is arming Ukraine with Excalibur satellite-guided artillery shells and four other high-mobility artillery rocket systems to help repel the Russian invasion force.
The $625 million worth of weapons and equipment, provided from US military stockpiles under the Presidential Withdrawal Authority, comes amid battlefield victories for Ukrainian forces. The US Department of Defense also contracts with industry for supplies.
“The capabilities in this package are designed to meet Ukraine’s immediate needs,” Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, told a news conference. at the Pentagon.. “This package will provide the Ukrainian Armed Forces with additional capabilities and ammunition they need to maintain momentum in the east and south, including additional artillery and precision fire.
Recapturing Lyman is a “significant operational achievement”, she said, adding that Ukrainian forces were advancing in the Kharkiv and southern Kherson regions.
“The Ukrainian counteroffensive and Kherson have made significant progress over the past 24 hours, and Ukrainian forces continue to liberate villages as they advance,” Cooper said.
The latest announcement is for Lockheed Martin-made HIMARS and associated munitions, which Ukraine has used to successfully target Russian supplies and command nodes, as well as 200 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, anti-personnel mines Claymore and 155mm and 105mm howitzers.
With this new assistance, the United States has committed more than $17.5 billion in aid to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration.
The latest draw includes an additional 75,000 155mm rounds, another 1,000 remote anti-armour mine projectiles that dispense anti-tank mines and another 500 satellite-guided M982 Excalibur rounds, Cooper said.
“Yes, when I referred to ‘500 155mm precision-guided artillery shells‘, that was a reference to the Excalibur shell,” Cooper said.
Pentagon officials had avoided publicly acknowledging that he had sent Excalibur shells, co-developed by Raytheon Missiles and Defense and BAE Systems Bofor of Sweden. Bloomberg first reported that the Pentagon plans to replenish the Excaliburs sent to Ukraine were included in a public budget document.
The United States is also sending MRAPs because the maneuvering capability will be important to Ukraine’s ability to regain ground, and especially during the coming winter months. MRAP light tactical vehicles were developed by the US military to protect its troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Weather plays a huge role in any war, and here what we anticipate is that as the weather changes, maneuvering will be much more difficult,” Cooper said.
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.