The Department of Defense confirmed on Wednesday (June 1) that the United States will send advanced high-mobility artillery rocket systems, known as HIMARS, to Ukraine as part of its latest security package. The systems, which can fire multiple long-range artillery rockets in seconds, should allow Ukrainian forces to better hit key targets on the battlefield, said a senior army officer with more than 20 years of experience. experience in commanding field artillery units. Coffee or Die Magazine.
“It won’t change the whole course of the war, but it will create significant new challenges for the Russian attack,” the officer said.
President Joe Biden alluded to the announcement Tuesday in an op-ed in The New York Timeswriting that America’s goal is “a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend against further aggression”.
The US government last promise of military aid worth $700 million, announced Wednesday, includes rocket systems, according to the Department of Defense. The DOD did not specify how many systems would be sent to Ukraine, although Defense News said it would be only four systems. The Pentagon also did not specify what type of missiles would accompany them.
Reuter also reported late Wednesday that the Pentagon plans to sell MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, an updated version of the Predator. If the drones are sold rather than transferred under presidential authority like HIMARs and other US systems, they would need to be approved by Congress, a process that could take weeks or more.
Ukrainian officials have been asking the United States for access to the HIMARS system for weeks, but American officials feared that the supply of long-range weapons to Ukraine could end in Ukrainian forces firing rockets at the Russia, provoking Kremlin reprisals against the United States.
“We neither encourage nor allow Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” the president wrote in his op-ed. “We are not looking for a war between NATO and Russia.”
A Pentagon spokesman told reporters on Wednesday that Ukraine had promised not to use HIMARS to launch rockets at Russia.
Developed by the United States in partnership with other NATO nations and manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the HIMARS is a mobile rocket launcher that can hit targets between 40 and 300 miles away, depending on the type of missiles it is equipped with. It usually carries a six-pack of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) missiles or an Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile.
The United States appears most likely to send the GMLRS missiles, as the Pentagon spokesman told reporters the rockets would be precision-guided and have a range of around 43 miles. This type of system could significantly increase the range of Ukrainian forces on the battlefield. Currently, Ukrainian troops use single-tube artillery guns like the US M777 howitzer, which typically have a range of between 18 and 25 miles and fire fewer and smaller projectiles than GMLRS rockets.
“On the one hand, this system gives the Ukrainians greater range so they can hit targets further away and from a safer position,” the army officer said. Coffee or Die Magazine. “And on the other hand, the system is designed to fire the rockets and then move very quickly to another location. So instead of letting it sit out in the open where it could be observed by a drone or even by soldiers on the ground, he can move quickly, establish his position so he can fire accurately, and then return just as quickly to the woods or somewhere before the enemy can react and fire on him.
As Russia increasingly adopts a strategy of pounding Ukrainian positions with its own rockets and artillery before slowly advancing troops, HIMARS will give Ukrainian forces a fighting chance.
“So they can potentially survive that initial barrage of artillery because they can have their rocket launchers beyond [Russian forces’] range,” the army officer said. “Then, as the masses of ground forces advance, they can counterattack with their own artillery to disrupt those attacks, instead of having to essentially retreat in the face of this overwhelming force.”
Russian forces, he said, might then have to accept that they take more casualties and lose more of their own rocket and artillery systems because they risk being counterattacked by HIMARS.
In addition to rocket systems, Ukraine’s latest security assistance package includes thousands of additional weapons and supplies:
- Five counter-artillery radars.
- Two air surveillance radars.
- 1,000 javelins and 50 command throw units.
- 6,000 anti-armour weapons.
- 15,000 155mm artillery shells.
- Four Mi-17 helicopters.
- 15 tactical vehicles.
- Spare parts and equipment.
The United States has now committed about $4.6 billion to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February.
Update, 5:15 p.m., June 1: This story has been updated to include a report that the US may be considering selling MQ-1C drones to Ukraine.
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