(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl.)
The Defense Department, in its biggest tranche of security assistance to Ukraine to date, is preparing to put $3 billion under contract to deliver surface-to-air missiles, long-range artillery, laser-guided rockets and a variety of drones.
The aid announcement coincides with the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The equipment will be funded under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which, unlike presidential “drawdown” authority that transfers weapons directly from U.S. stocks, gives DOD authority to procure items directly from industry.
“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term to ensure Ukraine can continue to defend itself as an independent, sovereign and prosperous state,” DOD said.
The package, according to DOD, includes: six additional National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems; up to 245,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition; up to 65,000 rounds of 120 mm mortar ammunition; up to 24 counter-artillery radars; Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems and support equipment for Scan Eagle UAS systems; VAMPIRE counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems; laser-guided rocket systems; and funding for training, maintenance and sustainment.
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said the new USAI announcement is proof of the U.S. commitment to Ukraine over the “long haul” and represents a “multiyear investment in critical defense capabilities” since many of the systems make take between one and three years to arrive.
“Deliveries will begin in the next several months and continue over the coming years,” he said, noting that many of the systems in the current package will not contribute directly to “today’s fight” in Ukraine, but rather “for years to come.”
Kahl said the Vampire c-UAS system “is a kinetic system” being sent to Ukraine for the first time uses small missiles to shoot down drones.
Meanwhile, Kahl said DOD is working with Ukraine to determine what it would take to establish a sustainable military capable of continuing to defend itself from Russia over the next three years depending on a variety of scenarios.
Kahl also said that sending fighter aircraft to Ukraine remains “on the table.”
Kahl said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “theory of victory” is that Russian forces will be able to outlast Ukraine and the commitment of the United States and other nations bolstering its defenses.
But, he said, a multiyear package funded under the USAI challenges the strategy.
The United States has committed more than $13.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021.