The US and its allies sponsored the training of Ukrainian forces that sunk a Russian naval vessel in June with a Harpoon anti-ship missile, the US undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment Bill LaPlante revealed.
Speaking at the Defense News Conference, LaPlante said the Boeing weapon was taken from an allied vessel and modified to fire from a flatbed truck.
“We got them off the ship, put them on some flatbed trucks, put the Harpoons, the modules on the flatbed truck, and then a different flatbed truck for the power source, connected a cable between it, figured out was exportable,” he was quoted as saying by Defense One.
Trained by ‘Vendor’
LaPlante added that the Ukrainians were “brought to train on it over Memorial Day weekend, in our country, and the next week two Russian ships were sunk with those Harpoons.”
A spokesperson for LaPlante clarified that the undersecretary didn’t mean the Ukrainians were trained in the US. Rather, she said, what LaPlante meant by “Memorial Day weekend” was the weekend the Ukrainians were trained, the outlet wrote.
A US defense official said the US was part of a coalition that organized the training, provided by a “vendor.”
Russian Supply Vessel Sunk
LaPlante didn’t identify the country that gave the weapon to Ukraine. However, Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov revealed in June that Denmark had committed to providing a Harpoon missile to Ukraine. He later confirmed the weapon’s deployment.
Ukraine’s armed forces announced on June 17 that they struck a Russian tugboat in the Black Sea with two Harpoon missiles.
British intelligence confirmed the sinking, saying it was trying to deliver weapons and additional troops to a strategic Ukrainian territory.
Helped Ukraine Regain Snake Island
In early July, a Pentagon official opined that the sinking helped Kyiv regain control over Snake Island.
“The Ukrainians were very successful at applying significant pressure on the Russians, including by using those Harpoon missiles that they recently acquired to attack a resupply ship, and when you realize how barren and deserted Snake Island is, you understand the importance of resupply,” USNI News quoted the official as saying.
“So the Ukrainians made it very hard for the Russians to sustain their operations there, made them very vulnerable to Ukrainian strike.”