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US pledges 18 more HIMARS launchers for Ukraine

USMC HIMARS operations
US Marine Corps photo file photo a HIMARS launch in Hawaii

The US Department of Defense will be providing another 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) launchers and associated ammunition to Ukraine as part of the newest Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) package.

The additional security assistance is worth approximately $1.1 billion, the Pentagon said, adding it underscored the US commitment to continuing to support Ukraine over the long term.

Unlike the presidential drawdowns, which allows the Pentagon to deliver equipment to Ukraine from its stocks at a rapid pace, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry. It is designed to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term.

It may take a while for the latest HIMARS promised to Ukraine to arrive, a senior defense official noted.

“The procurement and delivery of these HIMARS systems and associated ammunition will take a few years,” the official said. “Today’s announcement is only the beginning of a procurement process.”

The senior defense official pointed out that in addition to the 16 HIMARS systems that the US has already provided to Ukraine, allies have provided Ukraine with another 10-equivalent multiple-launch rocket systems. The official said the Ukrainians have used these systems to great effect.

The September package follows the $3.3B one from August, which included Vampire counter-unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for the first time, as well as an additional six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS).

Capabilities that will be procured under the September package include the 18 HIMARS launchers, 150 Humvees, 150 tactical vehicles to tow weapons, 40 trucks and 80 trailers to transport heavy equipment, two radars for UAS, multi-mission radars, counter-UAS, communication systems, and explosive ordnance disposal equipment, among other items.

With this package, the US has now committed approximately $16.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021. Since 2014, the US has committed approximately $19 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

The Pentagon announced the latest assistance as Russia is wrapping up separatist-led referendums in parts of Russian-occupied Ukraine with the aim of annexing them. The referendums have been widely denounced by Ukraine and the West. Even Serbia, regarded as one of the few allies of Moscow, said it would not accept the results of the referendum.