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US rocket artillery off Ukraine will double its explosive range


The United States will supply Ukraine with longer-range rocket artillery that will double the range of its current ammunition, the Pentagon said Friday, as the country’s Western financiers expect fighting to increase dramatically in the coming months.

Ukraine will receive small diameter ground-launched bombs as part of a new $2.17 billion aid package announced by the Biden administration. The ammunition has a range of about 150 kilometers, almost twice as much as before by the US government, which has so far refused to supply such weapons for fear that Ukrainian forces will use them to attack inside Russia. This allows them to attack command posts, ammunition depots and other Russian military facilities in occupied parts of Ukraine.

Ukrainian commanders have said that while their forces have proved effective in destroying such targets, Russia has adapted by moving its key infrastructure out of range of US-supplied rocket artillery vehicles, such as the HIMARS and M270, allowing greater range was needed. The small-diameter bombs are designed to be fired from aircraft, but modified with rocket motors to launch from such systems. They can hit their intended targets within the radius of a car tire, according to Saab, which developed the program with Boeing.

The ammunition is part of a package sourced from the US defense industry, not from existing military stockpiles, so it could take months for the ammunition to arrive on the battlefield, according to US officials. Both sides have indicated their intention to go on the offensive in the spring, although fighting in the east around Bakhmut and Soledar has remained fierce throughout the winter.

By delivering the GSDB, the Biden administration has eased one of its biggest hang-ups to give Ukraine more reach. But officials continue to reject calls for missiles that can travel even further – munitions known as ATACMS that can travel about 300 kilometers.

“If we could attack from a distance of up to 300 kilometers, the Russian army would not be able to mount a defense and will have to retreat,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said at a meeting with European Union officials on Thursday. . within range of the ATACMS. “Ukraine is ready to give guarantees that your weapons will not be used in attacks on Russian territory. We have enough targets in the occupied territories of Ukraine and we are ready to coordinate (these) targets with our partners.”

Resnikov’s comments were reported early on by the Associated Press.

The package also included equipment that will “integrate Western air defense launchers, missiles and radars with Ukraine’s air defense systems,” underscoring the urgency in Ukraine to protect its airspace from Russian missiles and Iranian-supplied drones. To date, the Kiev government has relied on a patchwork of different systems provided by numerous allies to defend against the Kremlin’s assault on Ukraine’s power grid and other civilian infrastructure.

Like the small diameter bombs, this equipment will be contracted by manufacturers along with other air defense capabilities in the newly announced package, a process that typically takes months to procure and deliver, according to the Pentagon.

A separate package being cleared from existing U.S. stockpiles includes a significant resupply of rocket artillery, howitzer ammunition, and small arms. The US will equip 190 heavy machine guns with thermal imaging sites to shoot down drones. Some armed drones, such as Iran’s, fly low and slow, sometimes making them suitable targets for well-trained machine gunners, rather than using expensive missiles in more advanced air defense systems.

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