The US announced Wednesday that it is doubling the number of deadly HIMARS rocket systems sent to Ukraine as part of a new military aid package worth $1.1 billion.
The 18 additional multiple rocket systems, which have pinpoint accuracy and have been used by Ukraine to wreak havoc on high-value Russian targets such as command posts and ammunition dumps, will be sent over the medium- and long-term, the Pentagon said.
Instead of weapons taken from existing stockpiles, this package will consist of newly procured arms, and the HIMARS alone could “take a few years,” according to a senior Pentagon official.
So far, 16 HIMARS have been deployed by the Ukrainians, and the rocket systems have been credited with playing a key role in recent counteroffensives against the invading Russians.
The latest package of orders for US military suppliers also includes 150 armored vehicles, 150 tactical vehicles for towing weapons, trucks and trailers, and systems to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s Iranian-made drones increasingly deployed on the battlefield, according to a Defense Department statement.
The package “represents a multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s Armed Forces” as they continue to battle the invading Russian army, the Pentagon said.
The new package took the total US military aid to Ukraine since the Russians invaded in late February to $16.2 billion.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the commitment to keep supplying weapons shows “we will not be deterred from supporting Ukraine. We will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people and provide them with the security assistance they need to defend themselves for as long as it takes.”