US President Joe Biden has approved the shipment of a brand-new type of precision-guided artillery rounds as part of its new tranche of military assistance to Ukraine, according to a senior defense official. The insider said the most recent security support would be a combination of capabilities currently used throughout the conflict and newly developed technology.

The administration believes this round will give Ukraine a technological advantage in its power struggle against Russia. According to the source, who spoke anonymously, the 1,000 rounds of the new 155mm ammunition will be included in the new $400 million aid package that the White House will release.

Another Set of Rockets

M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) vehicles with the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery Regiment, Kentucky Army National Guard participating in Saber Strike 18 execute a fire mission at Bemoko Piskie, Poland, June 14, 2018. (Source: Charles Rosemond, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The shipment also includes four additional rocket launchers and ammunition, taking the total number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that the US is supplying to Ukraine to 12. But, the official also said that eight of the 12 HIMARS pledged to Ukraine have already been delivered. According to a senior military officer, as many as 100 Ukrainians have trained extensively on the technology.

The defense conglomerate Lockheed Martin is responsible for producing the HIMARS, built to fire several missiles from a mobile 5-ton truck. According to the official, US troops will continue to teach Ukrainian forces at a place outside of Ukraine how to operate the equipment.

The official noted that they would continue to educate soldiers since we see this as a protracted struggle. The HIMARS training typically takes around a week to finish.

“We will continue to train them because we see this as a sustained battle,” he said.

The most recent shipment of assistance also has three tactical vehicles, demolition munitions, counter-battery systems, and replacement components, in addition to other types of machinery.

When reporters prodded the official for further information, he turned down to elaborate when asked how many Ukrainian forces have so far finished their training on the HIMARS platform.

New Arms

The latest munitions provide a capability comparable to that of the M982 Excalibur rounds used by the US Army. These rounds offer GPS-guided precision targeting to the M777 Howitzers that the US has provided to Ukraine and are presently employed against Russian forces. However, the official would not comment on whether or not Excalibur is included in the deal.

“It offers Ukraine precise capability for specific targets, it will save ammunition, it will be more effective due to the precision, so it’s a further evolution in our support for Ukraine in this battle in the Donbas.”

According to the senior military officer, precision munitions are necessary to prevent mass collateral damage. He went on to note that Russia, on the other hand, has been targeting civilians without distinction throughout the entire fight.

US President Joe Biden signs Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 into law. (Source: The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The “Wish List”

Before the current set of military aid, the Ukrainian military has a significant interest in acquiring heavy artillery platforms. The Pentagon has provided Ukrainian forces with 126 155 mm howitzer artillery systems previously held in stocks by the US Army and the US Marine Corps.

Before Ukrainian troops can operate the howitzers, they must undergo training with the US Military. The Pentagon has stated that the drill will be conducted outside Ukraine but close to the country.

The United States provided around 260,000 artillery rounds in addition to the howitzers it sent.

In addition, the US has promised to purchase at least 700 Switchblade drones produced by the American company AeroVironment. The weapon is available in two different iterations: the Switchblade 300 and the Switchblade 600. However, there was an apparent lack of clarity on what version of the software the US installed in Ukraine. Furthermore, each Switchblade is intended to be a “kamikaze” drone, which means it will only carry out its mission once.

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The 300 version is optimized for use against low-protection opponents. It has a range of 10 miles, weighs slightly more than 5 pounds, and can be carried in a backpack without difficulty. This particular weapon model, the 600, is intended for use in the destruction of tanks and other armored military vehicles. It has a range of more than 40 miles and weighs slightly more than 120 pounds.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has also committed to purchasing the Puma unmanned aerial system (UAS) and 121 tactical unmanned aerial systems, also known as Phoenix Ghost drones.