The latest U.S. military aid package to Kyiv did not include big-ticket items, such as the Abrams tank and F-16 Raptor jets, but announced plans to hand over massive amounts of ammunition for Ukraine to fire at the Russian invaders. It includes everything from machine gun ammunition to artillery shells to multi-million dollar anti-aircraft missiles to precision-guided munitions.
A total of $2.6 billion worth of arms and security support will soon be heading Ukraine’s way, as detailed in the Apr. 4 Department of Defense official announcment. This will exceed the previous record one-month transfer with a value of $2.5 billion, that was set in January.
In a clear Washington acknowlegment that, if one hands over a weapons system to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, it’s advisable to get the ammunition for it where it’s needed, before it’s needed. At the head of the list being supplied are “additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems.”
U.S. President Joe Biden announced in December that Ukraine would soon get a Patriot missile battery and the training for its Ukrainian crews. The weapon is America’s top-end anti-aircraft missile and costs about $700 million for 4 missiles shot. In late March Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was hoping the Patriots would reach Ukraine “soon…(because) we need them.”
The April 2023 Departement of Defense announcement marked the first time Pentagon planners, since Russia invaded Ukraine in Feb. 2022, formally announced the dispatch of replacement ammunition for a major US weapons system sent to Ukraine, before the weapon was declared to be in the field, KyivPost research shows.
Forward-thinking US logistical planning was also visible with the inclusion of 105mm and 120mm tank ammunition. Currently, Ukraine operates a reported 28 former Slovenian army tanks armed with 105mm guns and will soon operate 50-60 German-made Leopard 2 tanks armed with 120mm guns; neither tank is currently in combat.
However, the bulk of the April ammunition shipment will resupply the modern U.S.systems that Ukraine has found to be so effective that they regularly run short of ammunition. Ukrainian personnel have particular praise for America’s NASAMS anti-aircraft missiles and precision-guided rockets for the HIMARS and M270 long-range artillery systems as being deadly effective against Russian forces.
Along with (unspecified numbers) of more high-tech missiles, the transfer also includes the transfer of additional 155mm artillery shells, the backbone munition for the AFU fight. Ukrainian artillery gunners have repeatedly complained that their drones always have more targets than army logistics is able to to supply.
The Ukrainian infantry, likewise, will receive increased firepower with resupplies of Javelin and TOW anti-armor missiles, mortar rounds in every caliber U.S. factories produce (60mm, 81mm and 120mm), plus 23 million rounds of small arms ammunition.
Once a country considered an east European backwater by Washington, Ukraine has become far and away the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid. It’s the first time that a European country has held the top spot since the Harry S. Truman administration directed vast sums into rebuilding the continent through the Marshall Plan after World War II, as the American Committee for Foreign Relations (CFR) noted in a recent report. Currently, Ukraine is receiving fourteen times more military aid from the U.S. than Israel, the next-largest of Washington’s arms transfer recipients.
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