On 1 April, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby outlined what would be included in the US’ latest aid package to Ukraine. The aid ranges from small arms ammunition and medical supplies to vehicles and unmanned aerial systems.
The Pentagon confirmed that the package includes:
- Laser-guided rocket systems
- Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems
- Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems
- Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems
- Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles
- Small-to-large caliber non-standard ammunition
- Night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, and optics
- Tactical secure communications systems
- Non-standard machine guns
- Commercial satellite imagery services
- Medical supplies, field equipment, and spare parts
Kirby explained that the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) allows procurement of systems and capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment Department of Defense stocks in what is known as a ‘drawdown’. Previous transfers from the US had been taken directly from military stores, including small arms, Javelin anti-tank guided missiles, Stinger air defense missiles and other equipment.
Notable entries in the list include the AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma, a light drone which is used the US military for surveillance and intelligence gathering. Pumas has a 2 hour endurance time and a 15km range. The list also confirms earlier announcements of another AeroVironment system: the Switchblade loitering munition system but does not confirm if it will be the Switchblade 300 or larger and more capable Switchblade 600.
The list also mentions “Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles” also known as Humvees (quantities of which are already in Ukrainian service) and “non-standard machine guns” and “small-to-large caliber non-standard ammunition” – this likely indicates the procurement of non-NATO ammunition, including 7.62×39mm, 5.45×39mm and 7.62×54mmR, and perhaps 12.7×108mm. These calibres of small arms ammunition are principally used by Ukrainian forces. The machine guns chambered in non-NATO rounds, also mentioned in the package, likely meaning 7.62×54mmR chambered weapons like the PKM and perhaps heavy machine guns in 12.7×108mm.
Another notable inclusion is “Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems”, but given the US is currently developing a number of anti-drone systems its unclear what this may refer to although there are a range of options available from the private sector.
Night vision devices, thermal imagery systems and optics are also key pieces of equipment which will give the Ukrainians a tactical edge over Russian troops who have been observed to be largely under equipped with night vision kit.
The first item, ‘laser guided rocket systems’, may refer to a system like BAE’s Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System which adds a precision laser guidance system to 2.75-inch rockets. These can be used from air and ground-based platforms.
Kirby concluded by saying “the United States also continues to work with its Allies and partners to identify and provide to the Ukrainians additional capabilities.” On Thursday the UK hosted the second International Defence Donor Conference for Ukraine. As a result of the conference the UK and the 35 countries which participated are now looking at providing armored vehicles, more air defense systems, long range artillery systems & weapons to enable Ukraine to defend her coast from Russian naval vessels.