The US defense department has approved another tranche of military assistance for Ukraine, officially confirming Switchblade loitering missiles are part of the package.
Officials previously confirmed the planned transfer of the kamikaze drones, which can stay in the air for prolonged periods of time before descending on their targets, would be sent to Ukraine, but this is the first the defense department is officially confirming this.
The department notified Congress of the additional transfers on April 1, under authority provided by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).
Pentagon said it would provide up to $300 million in security assistance to bolster Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself as Russia’s invasion continues.
According to an official list of items that will delivered, Ukraine will be receiving laser-guided rocket systems, Switchblade Tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS), Puma UAS, counter-UAS, Humvees, small-to-large caliber nonstandard ammunition, night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, and optics.
Additional support will come in the form of tactical secure communications systems, non-standard machine guns, commercial satellite imagery services, medical supplies, field equipment, and spare parts.
The US has now committed more than $2.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including more than $1.6 billion in security assistance since Russia’s unprovoked, premeditated invasion.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the US also continues to work with partners to identify and provide to the Ukrainians additional capabilities. This would include support for allies willing to transfer Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine, the New York Times quoted a US official as saying.
The tanks would be in addition to the Soviet-era BMP-1 tracked infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) that would be handed over to Ukraine by the Czech Republic, following Germany’s approval.
Australia has also said it would supply Ukraine with Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy specifically asked for them in an appeal to Australian lawmakers.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Australian prime minister Scot Morrison said the vehicles would be transferred via C-17 Globemaster transport planes, without revealing when, or how many of the vehicles would be sent.
“We’re not just sending our prayers, we are sending our guns, we’re sending our munitions, we’re sending our humanitarian aid, we’re sending all of this, our body armor, all of these things and we’re going to be sending our armored vehicles, our Bushmasters, as well,” prime minister Morrison said.