The United States is readying more than $2bn worth of military aid for Ukraine that is expected to include longer-range rockets for the first time as well as other munitions and weapons, according to the Reuters news agency, citing two US officials briefed on the plan.
The aid is expected to be announced as soon as this week, the officials said on Wednesday. It is also expected to include support equipment for Patriot air defence systems, precision-guided munitions and Javelin anti-tank weapons, they added.
One of the officials said a portion of the package, expected to be $1.725bn, would come from a fund known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows President Joe Biden’s administration to get weapons from industry rather than from US weapons stocks.
The USAI funds would go towards the purchase of a new weapon, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), which has a range of 150km (94 miles). The US has rebuffed Ukraine’s requests for the 300-km (185-mile) range ATACMS missile.
The longer range of the GLSDB glide bomb could allow Ukraine to hit targets that have been out of reach and help it continue pressing its counterattacks by disrupting Russia further behind its lines.
The GLSDB is GPS-guided, can defeat some electronic jamming, is usable in all weather conditions, and can be used against armoured vehicles, according to SAAB, the Swedish-based company which produces the weapon with Boeing.
The GBU-39 bomb, which would function as the GLSDB’s warhead, has small, folding wings that allow it to glide more than 100km (60 miles) if dropped from an aircraft and hit targets as small as 1 metre (3 feet) in diameter.
The USAI funds would also be used to pay for more components of HAWK air defences, counter-drone systems, counter artillery and air surveillance radars, communications equipment, PUMA drones, and spare parts for major systems like Patriots and Bradleys, one of the officials said.
There was also a significant amount of medical equipment — enough to equip three field hospitals — being donated by another ally, the official added.
The White House declined to comment. The contents and size of aid packages can change up until they are signed by the president.
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In addition to the USAI funds, more than $400m worth of aid was expected to come from Presidential Drawdown Authority funds, which allows the president to take from current US stocks in an emergency.
That aid was expected to include mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), guided multiple launch rocket systems (GMLRS) and ammunition.
The US has sent security assistance worth approximately $27.2bn to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on February 24 last year. Russia calls the invasion a “special operation”.
Source: Al Jazeera
BDST: 1251 HRS, FEB 1, 2023