What is the high-tech rocket system the US plans to send to Ukraine?

June 01, 2022

KIEV — The US will send truck-mounted high-tech rocket systems to Ukraine as the country continues to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine’s leaders have been asking for the weapons which they say could be critical to their success in the war against Russia, now in its fourth month.

US President Joe Biden had said on Monday that his administration would not be sending Ukraine weapons which could strike into Russia.

But in an editorial published in the New York Times on Tuesday, he confirmed the US will “provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine”.

Officials said Ukraine would be sent the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), as part of a new $700 million (€653 million) round of support for Ukraine which also includes helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, tactical vehicles and more.

Ukraine has been heavily reliant on weapons and equipment sent from its allies in its defense against Russia’s military forces.

Allies such as the US have been careful to try to strike a balance between providing the country with the equipment it needs while avoiding escalating the conflict outside of Ukraine’s borders.

Manufacturer Lockheed Martin describes the M142 HIMARS as having “shoot and scoot” capability, referring to the fact it is a highly mobile weapons system which can fire and retreat at speed, reducing the chance of being targeted by the enemy.

It is a truck-mounted multiple launch rocket system with a container with six rockets. The HIMAR can move into position, fire, retreat, and reload in a matter of minutes.

Mark Hertling, a former Commanding General of the United States Army in Europe, gave the lowdown on the HIMAR on a Twitter thread, stating it is fast-moving, provides a “quicker strike” but a “smaller punch,” and is “easier to resupply and maintain” than previous multiple missile systems.

The system the US is expected to send can launch a medium-range rocket. It is capable of firing long-range rockets too, but these are not expected to be included in the package being sent to Ukraine.

One US official noted that these particular advanced rocket systems would give Ukrainian forces greater precision in targeting Russian assets inside Ukraine.

The expectation is that Ukraine could use the rockets in the eastern Donbas region, where they could both intercept Russian artillery and take out Russian positions in towns where fighting is intense, such as Sievierodonetsk.

“These are very important capabilities that we have not gotten them yet. And they not only need them, but they have been very vociferous in explaining they want them,” he said.

“We need to get serious about supplying this army so that it can do what the world is asking it to do: fight a world superpower alone on the battlefield.”

US forces have used the HIMARS in multiple conflicts since 2010, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. The latest weapons package from the US to Ukraine is expected to be officially unveiled on Wednesday. It is the 11th support package from the US so far during the conflict. — Euronews

June 01, 2022
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