The Biden Administration is preparing another massive military aid package for Ukraine, this time worth more than $2 billion, and which will for the first time include longer-range weaponry.
Ukraine has thus far received some $2.72 billion in security and military assistance from the United States since the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022.
This latest military aid package — which the president has yet to sign — is expected to source some $1.725 billion from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), a fund that enables the administration to purchase new military hardware directly from industry, rather than pull it from America’s own weapons stockpile.
The funds will be used to pay for more HAWK aerial defense components, counter drone systems, counter artillery and air surveillance radars, communications equipment, PUMA drones, and spare parts for the Patriot aerial defense and Bradley fighting vehicle systems, a US official told Reuters.
In addition, more than $400 million is expected to be pulled from the Presidential Drawdown Authority fund, which allows the president to take from America’s current arsenal in the case of an emergency.
Ukraine is expected to receive mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), guided multiple launch rocket systems (GMLRS) and ammunition from that funding.
The new package is expected to include longer-range weaponry for the first time, as well as other munitions and weapons, according to two US officials quoted by the news agency.
Among those longer-range weapons will be the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) system made by Boeing and SAAB. The system includes the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and the M26 rocket motor, and can be launched from ground-based missile systems such as the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System and M142 HIMARS.
SDB is a 250-pound class weapon with an Advanced Anti-Jam GPS System-aided Inertial Navigation System, combined with a multipurpose, penetrating blast-and-fragmentation warhead and programmable electronic fuze, according to SAAB. It can hit a target with one-meter accuracy.
GPS-guided with a range of 94 miles (150 km), the system is being supplied so that Ukrainian forces can hit targets that up to this point have been out of range. The weapon is usable in all weather conditions, can defeat some electronic jamming and can be used against armored vehicles, according to the SAAB website.
In addition, the package is set to include support equipment for the Patriot aerial defense system, precision-guided munitions and Javelin anti-tank weapons, the sources said.
The US has refused a Ukrainian request for the 185-mile (297-km) range ATACMS missile, and President Joe Biden has unequivocally refused to comply with Ukraine’s request for F-16 fighter jets.