U.S. President Joe Biden has announced an additional $800 million in heavy weapons the country will speed to Ukrainian forces, which will include more than a dozen heavy-artillery howitzers, hundreds of armored vehicles and nearly a dozen helicopters, all from U.S. stockpiles.
Especially with the 18 towed 155mm howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds, which the U.S. is providing for the first time, the Pentagon hopes to help even the odds against Russian forces, as the war enters a new phase, concentrated in eastern Ukraine. Moscow is now expected to bolster and resupply its forces in the Donbas region, where they can take advantage of shorter supply lines and open ground to employ tanks and more long-range fires, artillery and rocket capabilities, Pentagon officials said.
“It’s the first time that we’ve provided these [155mm] howitzers and the associated rounds, and that’s reflective of the kind of fighting that the Ukrainians are expecting to be faced with here in this more confined geographic area,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday. “They specifically asked for fire support, specifically for artillery.”
The package includes 10 more AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars; two AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radars; 300 Switchblade drones; 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles; 200 M113 armored personnel carriers; and 100 armored Humvees.
Also included are 11 armed Mi-17 helicopters pledged to the now-defunct Afghan Air Force, which follow five Mi-17s diverted from Afghanistan in January.
One mystery on the list is an unspecified number and type of “unmanned coastal defense vessels” that the U.S. Navy will provide. Kirby described the drone heading to Ukraine only as “a surface vessel that can be used for a variety of coastal defense missions,” adding amid questions: “I assure you that they work.”