By Dave DeCamp
The Biden administration on Friday announced a new $2.2 billion arms package for Ukraine that includes longer-range rockets, marking the latest US escalation, although they won’t be delivered until much later this year.
The Boeing-made Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) can hit targets up to 94 miles away, nearly twice the range of the munitions Ukraine is currently using with the US-provided HIMARS rocket systems.
“This gives them a longer-range capability — long-range fires capability that will enable them, again, to conduct operations in defense of their country and to take back their sovereign territory in Russian-occupied areas,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters.
The announcement comes after a series of other US escalations, including pledges to provide M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Each step brings the US and Russia closer to a direct conflict.
The US is providing the GLSDBs through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows the US to purchase arms for Ukraine. Weapons provided under the USAI could take months or years to deliver as they involve contracts and might need to be manufactured.
The GLSDB is made up of a precision-guided bomb and an M26 rocket motor. Boeing has been pushing the US to provide Ukraine with the GLSDB since the M26 rocket motors are widely available in US military stockpiles. According to POLITICO, the US military currently doesn’t have a ground-launched version of the bomb in its stocks, and it could take nine months for the necessary retrofits.
The new massive $2.2 billion weapons package is broken down into $1.75 billion in USAI funds and $425 million for the presidential drawdown authority, which allows the US to send arms directly from Pentagon stockpiles.
According to the Pentagon, the equipment included in the new presidential drawdown includes:
- Additional ammunition for HIMARS
- Additional 155mm artillery rounds
- Additional 120mm mortar rounds
- 190 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights and associated ammunition to counter Unmanned Aerial Systems
- 181 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles
- 250 Javelin anti-armor systems
- 2,000 anti-armor rockets
- Claymore anti-personnel munitions
- Demolitions munitions
- Cold weather gear, helmets, and other field equipment
The equipment included in the new USAI funding:
- Two HAWK air defense firing units
- Anti-aircraft guns and ammunition
- Equipment to integrate Western air defense launchers, missiles, and radars with Ukraine’s air defense systems
- Equipment to sustain Ukraine’s existing air defense capabilities
- Air defense generators
- Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems
- Four air surveillance radars
- 20 counter-mortar radars
- Spare parts for counter-artillery radars
- Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems
- Precision-guided rockets
- Secure communications equipment
- Medical supplies
- Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment
The Pentagon also put out a fact sheet on Friday detailing US military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion. According to the fact sheet, the US has pledged over $29.3 billion in military equipment alone since February 24, 2022.
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