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Germany promises to send MARS rocket launchers to Ukraine

German MARS launcher
German Army file photo

Germany has promised to send its Mittleres Artillerie Raketen System (MARS) launchers and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) ammunition to Ukraine.

This was confirmed on Wednesday by German defense minister Christine Lambrecht following the third meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Belgium, which attracted ministers and chiefs of defense from more than 45 countries coordinating efforts to aid Ukraine’s defense.

Germany’s announcement followed a statement from the White House on June 15, which said that the US will be sending an additional $1 billion in defense support for Ukraine. This US batch would also include truck-mounted Harpoon coastal defense missile launchers, a capability currently not in US military service. It should be noted that Boeing currently has a contract to deliver Harpoon coastal defense systems to Taiwan.

The MARS launchers and the associated GMLRS ammunition supplied by Germany would come from the country’s military stocks, the defense ministry said. MARS is the German version of the basic multiple launch rocket system, which was developed by the partner nations Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the US and Italy in the early 1980s and introduced in the US armed forces in 1983. The MLRS that has been in use in Germany since 1990 can fire different types of ammunition at individual targets over distances of over 70 km with GMLRS.

Germany noted that Ukraine specifically requested this capability, which will allow the Ukrainian Armed Forces to engage the invading force with accurate fire at ranges of approximately 70 kilometers.

The United States announced on June 1, that it would provide four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and GMLRS munitions. Several days later, the United Kingdom announced it would donate three M270 MLRS launchers with GMLRS munitions.

While the defense ministry did not comment on the quantities, earlier reports indicated that Germany considered transferring four MARS systems to Ukraine.

“The necessary training has already begun on the US HIMARS and UK M270 systems for their deployment in the coming weeks, and training on the German MARS launchers will begin very soon so the systems and their Ukrainian crews can be deployed urgently and without delay,” the German defense ministry said.

The promised military support will need to arrive in Ukraine in a timely manner, as Russia has shifted its focus to the Donbas region, where it is engaging in a systematic long-range rocket and artillery barrage against defensive Ukrainian military positions and civilian infrastructure alike.

Germany did not provide a timeframe on when it would supply the MARS systems, but US Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Wednesday that Ukraine would receive its first HIMARS systems to employ against Russian positions “in a few weeks.”