Ukraine shows off first use of HIMARS rockets supplied by US
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The new package of security assistance will include additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), ammunition and a substantial number of Phoenix Ghost unmanned aerial systems. Using Presidential drawdown authority, Joe Biden has pulled about $175million (£145.8million) in equipment pulled from existing US military stocks, to be sent to Ukrainian soldiers.
During a background briefing at the Pentagon, a senior defence official added that an additional $95million (£79million) in equipment from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI fund, would also be sent.
Included in the latest support package are four additional HIMARS systems, which will give Ukraine a total of 16 of these high-tech, lightweight rocket launchers that can be wheeled around to be deployed where needed.
These systems have a range of about 80km, and can launch six deadly, GPS-guided rockets that can be reloaded in about a minute with only a small crew.
The US-supplied weapons have allowed Ukrainian commanders to pinpoint Russian supply lines and command posts behind the front lines with deadly precision.
“It’s something that EUCOM has been facilitating through their cell in Stuttgart, Germany.”
As part of the (£79million) USAI fund, the US has committed to delivering as many as 580 additional Phoenix Ghost tactical unmanned aircraft systems to Ukraine.
Under USAI, these systems will be purchased from manufacturers so they can then be delivered to the Ukrainian military.
The official continued: “The Ukrainians have been making excellent use of the Phoenix Ghost system.
“This action allows us to go out and procure from industry additional capability.
“That’s where USAI is different from drawdown — this is actually a procurement action.
“And with the Phoenix Ghost system, what we’ll be able to do is ensure steady deliveries of this capability starting in August to ensure that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have a continual supply of this capability.”
The Pheonix Ghost drone is a small, US-made kamikaze drone that can loiter in a designated area for a long time, and attack swiftly once a target has been located.
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The official also noted that while Russian advances in Ukraine have been slow and costly, there’s also evidence that Russian morale is retreating.
The military official said. “We continue to see increased signs of discipline and morale problems in the Russian army.
“The Ukrainian will continue to be incredibly strong. And what we’re seeing is that will kind of … push the Russians around pretty decently.”
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