The Biden administration is stepping up military aid and donations to Ukraine as it prepares to send the Ukrainian government High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) . These weapons could be a game-changer in the battle to take control of the entire Donbass region.
It comes after the US government passed a $40 billion military aid budget for Ukraine intended to further bolster Biden’s ability to help Ukraine more quickly. $20 billion would be allocated for direct military assistance so that Ukraine has a constant flow of arms and ammunition to continue its efforts against the Russians. $5 billion to address the global food shortage due to Russia blocking Ukraine’s ability to ship grain from the Black Sea. $8 billion for general economic support and $1 billion to help Ukrainian refugees. The US government can also choose to send Patriot air defense missile systems to Ukraine if it wishes.
If they were sent to Ukraine, senior Ukrainian officials and President Zelensky himself would be extremely pleased, as they have been asking for these weapons for a few months, as they had little response for Russian bombings across Ukraine . MLRS and HIMARS are capable of firing rockets at distant targets, giving Ukraine the ability to operate against Russian units from afar.
Notably, this is a significant departure from the administration’s previous sentiments on the subject, as the White House was apparently withholding sending these rocket systems to Ukraine because they could be used to launch strikes directly on mainland Russia, an act that the Kremlin would interpret as an act of war by the United States and potentially widen the conflict.
More so, if they didn’t assume the US was behind the hypothetical attack, giving the Ukrainians the ability to strike targets from a distance would only prolong the conflict even further as they attempt to bombard oneself. Moreover, Moscow already views arms shipments to Ukraine as hostile and actively tries to attack those shipments along the way. Thus, the mere fact that the United States sends weapons to Ukraine, in particular HIMARS and MLRS, can be interpreted as a significant escalation on the part of Russia, because these weapons present a destructive power far greater than the M777 howitzers that the United States sent earlier.
Presumably these systems are given to Ukraine with the express agreement that their rockets will not be fired into Russian territory.
The United States is said to be careful about the weapons it sends to Ukraine, so it is continually looking for options that offer “the best value for money”.
“In this spirit, we want to defeat the enemy and liberate our territories as soon as possible,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said, adding that Ukraine is ready to purchase such weapons as MLRS, missiles and other ammunition it needs. out of other countries.
Why do Ukrainians badly need MLRS and HIMARS?
The Ukrainians need MLRS and HIMARS, or both, due to increased range against the Russians without sacrificing accuracy. Both systems would allow Ukrainian troops to bring down fire on Russian units and positions at a distance safe from counter-battery fire. Their range also means they can be spread out while still focusing their fire on places where the Russians are attempting offensive operations. Finally, their mobility allows these systems to move quickly to cover and avoid detection by drones and aircraft.
First, let’s discuss what MLRS has to offer. The M270 MLRS is a tracked, armored, self-propelled multiple rocket launcher that has been in service with the United States Army since 1983. Using the Bradley IFV chassis, it fires a multitude of 227 mm surface-to-surface rockets (including -guided types), which can reach a range varied by missile type. The system can fire 12 GMLRS Guided MLRS (GMLRS) or Extended Range (ER) rockets, four Precision Missiles (PrSM) or two Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS).
The most basic rocket/missile variant, the M26, can fire missiles up to 19.9 miles (32 km), the M26A1/A2 can reach 28 miles (45 km) and the M30/31 variant can reach 43 .5 miles (70 kilometers). An M270 can be loaded with two modules, firing 24 rockets or two ATACMS missiles.
The M142 HIMARS is the wheeled version of the M270. It is also a rocket and missile system manufactured by Lockheed Martin, and it uses an M1140 FMTV light military truck chassis instead of a tracked chassis. The rear of the truck can be equipped with six rockets or one MGM-140 ATACMS surface-to-surface missile. Much lighter than the M270 (in fact, twice as light), it is more mobile and can easily be transported by a C-130. Much like the M270, the rockets it can fire can reach up to 43.5 miles away. ATACMS missiles can hit targets up to 186 miles (300 kilometers).
Some of the rockets it can fire are:
- M26, M26A2Er Enhanced Dual Purpose Conventional Ammunition (DPICM)
- M30 GMLRS DPICM, M31, M31A1
- m31A2 GMLRS Unitary (GMLRS-U), M30A1
- M30A2 GMLRS Alternate Warhead (GMLRS AW)
- XM404, XM403 ER GMLRS RS Unitary
- M28A1, M28A2 Low Cost Low Range Training Rocket (LCRRPR).
That being said, Ukraine will surely be grateful to the United States if they go ahead with their plans to supply them with MRLS or HIMARS, increasing their accuracy and lethality at a critical moment in the fighting when Russia continues to lose ground. Currently, the United States is Ukraine’s largest military supporter, having donated billions in weapons and economic aid to the European country.
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