As the Ukraine-Russia war continues, it becomes increasingly apparent that Ukraine is in dire need of weapons and military supplies. The US has pledged to send more weapons to Ukraine, but the process is slow and complicated. So what are we doing to help out?

Long-range rockets are considered a source of weapons for Ukraine as supplies run out.

The West is struggling to meet the demand for more weapons as the Pentagon considers providing Ukraine with cheap, small precision bombs fitted onto abundantly available rockets, allowing Kyiv to strike far behind Russian lines.

Karako noted that there had been a lot of air-dropped weapons available in Afghanistan since the US pulled out. Ukrainian aircraft cannot use them quickly, but “in today’s context, we should seek out new ways to utilize them as standoff weapons.”

The war is dragging on, and Ukraine needs more sophisticated weaponry as military inventories shrink in the United States and other nations. Industry sources said Boeing’s Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) program is one of about six plans to produce new munitions for Ukraine and America’s Eastern European allies.

Leeuwarden, October 20, 2020. Personnel arm the F-35 for the first time in the Netherlands with the Small Diameter Bomb or GBU39. Stock material F-35 (Source: Ministerie van Defensie/Wikimedia)

According to reports, three people were familiar with the plan; the GLSDB could be delivered as early as spring 2023. The GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and the M26 rocket motor, both of which are common in US inventories, are combined in this plan.

The Pentagon’s chief weapons purchaser, Doug Bush, told reporters last week that the military was also considering speeding up production of 155mm artillery shells – currently produced only at government facilities – by allowing defense contractors to manufacture them. According to Bush, the demand for American-made weapons and ammunition increased due to the invasion of Ukraine, while US allies in Eastern Europe supplied Ukraine with various arms due to demand.

Weapons and security expert Tom Karako at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said quantity should be acquired at a low cost, not about quality. Taylor said that the desire to obtain more weapons now is explained by the fact that US stockpiles are “getting low relative to the levels we like to keep on hand and certainly to the levels we’re going to need to deter a China conflict.”

Karako also noted that there are still plenty of air-dropped bombs available in Afghanistan. They cannot be easily used with Ukrainian aircraft, but “iin today’s context we should be looking for innovative ways to convert them to standoff capability.”

The ‘best system’ is the phrase that best fits the context.

Logistical issues have already hindered the formal procurement of a handful of GLSDB units. The Pentagon’s in-depth review of contractor pricing is waived in the Boeing plan, ensuring the best deal possible. At least six suppliers must be involved to speed up deliveries of parts and services to build the weapon.

This will ensure that Ukraine gets the best weapons in time, and it may be possible to provide more weapons faster than the Pentagon planned. Moreover, such a solution would prove beneficial in helping Ukraine’s military gain a tactical advantage in this ongoing conflict. In conclusion, we must find answers quickly to ensure Ukrainian citizens’ safety and maintain Europe’s political stability. This includes accelerating existing plans for weapons delivery, as well as exploring alternative ways of obtaining weaponry. These measures are crucial for ensuring that Ukraine has the resources to defend itself from Russian aggression.

A Boeing representative declined to comment. Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Tim Gorman said that the United States and its allies “identify and consider the most appropriate systems” to help Kyiv. However, he declined to comment on whether the United States would provide any “specific capability” to Ukraine.

The GLSDB’s 150km (94-mile) range would allow Ukraine to hit valuable military targets that have been out of reach and continue pressing its counterattacks by disrupting Russian rear areas, despite the United States rebuffing requests for the 297km (185-mile) range ATACMS missile.

Saab AB and Boeing Co-created the GLSDB in collaboration in 2019, long before Russia’s ‘special military operation. SAAB Chief Executive Micael Johansson commented in October: “We are imminently shortly expecting contracts on that.”

(Source: Kelly Michals/Flickr)

The GLSDB would be composed of current US stores as outlined in the document. Despite its relative abundance, the M26 rocket motor is an expensive component of the GBU-39, driving up production costs. Even though manufacturers are struggling to meet demand, they should be able to deliver weapons early in 2023, provided that they are produced at a relatively low rate.

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According to SAAB’s website, the GLSDB is GPS-guided, weather-resistant, and capable of being used against armored vehicles. In addition, SAAB mentions that the GBU-39 – which would function as the warhead for the GLSDB – has tiny, folding wings that permit it to fly over 100 kilometers if dropped from a plane and strike targets as little as 1 meter (3 feet).

Defense giant Lockheed Martin is striving to boost production of HIMARS mobile rocket launchers in rural Arkansas to meet rising demand. The missiles have successfully struck Russian supply lines, command posts, and even individual tanks, and the top US defense contractor is working on supply chain issues and labor shortages to double production to 96 launchers a year.

The HIMARS fires Guided Multiple Rocket Launch System missiles (GMLRS), which are GPS-guided and have 200-kilogram (90-pound) warheads. Lockheed Martin produces about 4,600 of these missiles annually, and more than 5,000 have been delivered to Ukraine. However, the United States still needs to divulge how many GMLRS missiles it has supplied to Ukraine.

Weaponry repurposing for normal military purposes isn’t new. The NASAMS air defense system, developed by Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace and Raytheon, uses AIM-120 missiles— originally designed to be fired from fighter jets at other aircraft. Another weapon, the Joint-Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), widespread in US stockpiles, is a standard unguided bomb outfitted with fins and a GPS guidance system.