“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” – Ronald Reagan.
The Wisdom of The Gipper
When Vladimir Putin started this war in February, I’m not quite sure if he entirely anticipated the actual cost to his country in blood and treasure. He likely thought his massive army would roll in, squash a Ukrainian attempt at fighting back, and begin flying the Russian flag over Ukraine. Instead, depending on who you ask, the death toll of Russian soldiers in Ukraine is nearing 30,000, and that’s in fewer than four months of combat.
On the other hand, the US is counting our costs in the war thus far in dollars and cents. According to the US Department of Defense, as of writing (June 20, 2022), the cost of weaponry sent is recorded to be about $5.6 billion. In addition, we’ve sent billions more in humanitarian aid. As a note, they refer to the money as “security assistance.”
The Smaller Stuff
Just because something doesn’t cost millions of dollars doesn’t mean it’s not essential in combat. The US sent over 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets to Ukrainian fighting forces. We have also sent thousands of night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, and other military optics. Don’t forget the tons of medical supplies and equipment we’ve sent along with nuclear, biological, and chemical protective pieces we’ve pulled from our stockpiles.
Then there are the 7,000 or so small arms of various types along with 50 million rounds of ammunition. Then, on top of that, We’ve sent more than a million grenades of different types of mortars and artillery rounds.
Aircraft and Radars
The US has agreed to send 20 Russian Mi-17 Hip military helicopters. How did we get ahold of 20 Russian military helicopters? Glad you asked. I wrote a piece all about that here. The Hips are transport helicopters than can be armed with cannons and rockets. They are capable of being used in attack or close air support roles.
To help defend against mortars, rockets, and artillery, we’re sending 22 highly mobile AN/TPQ-36 counter artillery radars. For more significant threats from the air, we’ve sent four AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radars capable of identifying approaching hostile aircraft (helicopters, fixed-wing, drones) and missiles. Finally, for good measure, we’ve tossed in some electronic radar jamming equipment.
Armored and Other Tactical Vehicles
This includes dusting off two hundred M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs) and a couple hundred more armored Humvees. In addition, they are including another 100 or so vehicles to tow 155 howitzers the US is sending together with a couple of dozen specialty vehicles to aid in the recovery of damaged equipment.
Missiles and Anti-Armor Weapons
We’ve sent more than 6,500 Javelin weapon systems to the Ukrainian military. In addition, we’ve added about 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems and approximately 20,000 NLAWs (next-generation Light anti-tank Weapons). That’s a lot of firepower.
Everyone seems to love drones, except the troops being wiped out by them. So we’re sending at least 700 single-use, Switchblade drones. The 300 variant has a range of about 10 miles. The much larger 600 variant weighs over 120 pounds, has a range of over 40 miles, and can take out a tank.
Puma unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are going as well, in addition to the classified, almost brand new Phoenix Ghost drones. One hundred and twenty-one of those are headed to Ukraine.
Heavy Artillery and Rocket Systems
Time to bring in the big guns and reach out and touch someone. To that end, the United States sent 126 155mm howitzer artillery systems from the Army and Marine inventories to Ukraine. We are shipping over a quarter of a million artillery rounds to go with those. That’s a lot of booms. For targets up to 43 miles away, we’re sending HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems). They can send munitions out to 186 miles, but we are keeping those rounds for ourselves now.
It should be interesting to see what we send in any future, as yet unannounced rounds of aid. We still have a lot of arrows left in our quiver, and we have not shared them all.