The U.S. is again dipping into its own military supply to ship another round of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine to use in its four-month-old battle against invading Russian forces. On Friday, President Biden authorized shipping up to $400 million in additional military equipment to help Kyiv as it contends with new Russian advances in the fiercely contested Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Included in the latest transfer are four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and 1,000 rounds of precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds that a senior defense official said would allow Ukrainian units to hit specific targets without being forced to expend a large number of shells.
Pentagon officials wouldn’t confirm if the 155 mm artillery shells are GPS-guided M982 Excalibur rounds that can be used in close-support operations or when there are civilians nearby.
HIMARS is a wheeled version of the Army’s Multiple Launch Rocket System. Ukraine currently has eight HIMARS weapons in the field, the Pentagon said.
“Ukraine is now successfully striking Russian locations … deeper behind the front lines and disrupting Russia’s ability to conduct artillery operations,” the Pentagon briefer said.
The drawdown also includes three tactical vehicles that can be used to recover damaged equipment on a battlefield, demolition munitions, counter-battery artillery systems and spare parts.
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The Pentagon is pushing back against claims that Russian forces in Ukraine were able to knock out at least one HIMARS on the battlefield already.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday its armed forces had destroyed two of the rocket systems and their ammunition depots in eastern Ukraine, the Reuters news agency reported, a claim denied by Kyiv.
“Those that have been provided [to Ukraine] are fully accounted for. Ukraine is still using them in the fight,” the official said.