New $1B weapon package headed for Ukraine with Harpoon anti-ship systems

By Tony Bertuca / June 15, 2022 at 2:52 PM

The United States today announced a new, $1 billion military aid package to Ukraine, including Harpoon anti-ship launchers and ammunition for long-range rocket systems, according to the Pentagon.

The aid is split between $350 million in “presidential drawdown authority” that transfers U.S. weapons to Ukraine and $650 million in supplemental Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds provided by Congress to contract directly with defense companies to procure weapons and services for Ukraine.

The weapons being transferred from U.S. stocks under presidential drawdown authority include: 18 155 mm howitzers; 36,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition; 18 tactical vehicles to tow 155 mm howitzers; additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems; four tactical vehicles to recover equipment; and spare parts and other equipment, according to the Pentagon.

The USAI funding, which the Pentagon said “represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional capabilities to Ukraine's armed forces,” covers two Harpoon coastal defense systems, “thousands of secure radios,” night vision devices, and funding for training, maintenance, sustainment, transportation, and administrative costs.

The Boeing-made Harpoon systems will not include missiles, which will be provided by other U.S. allies like Denmark. The systems will be mounted on trucks and allow Ukraine to protect its coastline from Russian war ships.

Senior defense officials said it may take “several months” for all the gear to be delivered to Ukraine and be “operationally effective” with trained Ukrainians.

The officials said the USAI funds, specifically the Harpoon systems, are the result of industry’s response to an April request for information.

"The United States has now committed approximately $6.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including approximately $5.6 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on Feb. 24,” the Pentagon said. “Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $8.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.”

Some U.S. lawmakers, however, want the Biden administration to be more aggressive with the military aid being sent.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said today at the Center for a New American Security that he believes the United States should send Ukraine Grey Eagle unmanned aerial systems and “stop the foot-dragging.”

Smith, speaking earlier to reporters, also said he believes the United States should send more long-range artillery to Ukraine and not be concerned about donating weapons capable of striking deep into Russian territory.

"When it comes to drones and when it comes to long-range artillery, we've been too cautious,” he said. “And I don't agree with the president's take that we can't give the Ukrainians anything capable of striking Russia. Ukraine borders Russia. If you give them a mortar shell that can go a mile, theoretically it can strike Russia. The issue is, if the Russians are able to see better and shoot further, then you're at a disadvantage. So, I think we should give them more of that."

At CNAS, Smith said he also believes the United States needs to begin contemplating how it can support a Ukrainian insurgency in the eastern portion of the country that Russia currently occupies.

“What Putin wants to do now is lock in his gains,” Smith said of the Russian president. “This is a vanity project for Putin. . . . There is no end to that.”