US Sending More HIMARS to Ukraine
Pentagon says latest $400M aid package includes precision rounds to “save ammo;” Russia may have paused to reset after tough Luhansk fight.
The Biden administration is sending to Ukraine four more medium-range rocket artillery systems and higher-precision ammunition in a new package of donated weapons that defense officials said would allow Ukrainian forces to save bullets for a conflict that could extend for months or years.
The $400 million offering is the United States’ third in as many weeks as the Pentagon tries to catch up to Ukrainian forces’ needs to launch counter-strikes and hold off further Russian advances in the Donbas region. The United States has provided $7.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, a defense official told reporters Friday.
The medium-range High Mobility Rocket Artillery Systems, or HIMARS, is a wheeled rocket launch system, and the rounds the United States has provided Ukraine to use with HIMARS allows it to hit Russian targets from a distance of about 40 miles away. Eight systems are already in Ukraine and the United States has trained about 100 Ukrainians on their use.
Friday’s package also includes “demolition munitions, counter-battery systems, and importantly spare parts and equipment,” the defense official said.
The official would not specify what type of new ammunition was being sent for use with the 155mm Howitzers but its intent is to enable Ukraine to attack Russian positions with greater precision, so fewer rounds are needed to hit a target.
“It will save ammunition,” the official said.
The United States has already provided 126 Howitzers and 410,000 artillery rounds but the Ukrainians need more due to the heavy ground campaign.
Russia took control of Luhansk over the last several days, but not without significant cost, a second senior military official told reporters. On Thursday Russian state-owned media reported those forces would have an operational pause, while Ukraine’s mayor of Luhansk said Friday the offensive was continuing.
“The Ukrainians made them pay for that land pretty hard,” the military official said. “If I took the number of casualties that the Russians took to gain that portion of ground, I’d probably have to stop and refit.”