U.S. to Send Longer-Range Guided Rockets to Ukraine - Do You Support the Move?
Do you support or oppose sending Ukraine long-range guided rocket artillery?
What’s the story?
- The U.S. is on the verge of sending advanced, highly mobile guided rocket artillery systems to Ukraine as it seeks to hold off the Russian offensive in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.
- Last week, the White House was reportedly close to a decision on sending mobile rocket artillery systems capable of using guided munitions to Ukraine, which has requested them following their effective use of towed artillery systems provided by the U.S., NATO, and others. Those systems, such as the M777 155mm howitzer which can use guided munitions, have a range of up to 25 miles.
- President Joe Biden was asked about the status of the request for longer-range artillery systems after he arrived at the White House on Monday and replied, “We’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia.”
- Following those remarks, an administration official told The Wall Street Journal that the White House is planning to send the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) and weapons platforms capable of using it to Ukraine because those will extend the range of Ukrainian artillery units without giving them the ability to strike deep into Russia.
- Biden put an end to the confusion with an op-ed in The New York Times on Tuesday in which he said, “I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”
What are the rocket systems?
- The GMLRS has a range of up to about 43 miles, although extended versions of the munition can reach over 80 miles miles. By doubling or tripling the range of Ukraine’s guided artillery units, Ukrainian forces would be able to accurately strike targets deeper behind the lines from areas outside the range of Russian counter-battery artillery fire, meaning their primary threat would be aircraft.
- Both the ranges of the standard GMLRS and its extended-range variant are significantly shorter than other artillery systems like the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which has a publicly-stated range of up to 190 miles and can be used from the same multiple-rocket launchers the U.S. may send to Ukraine.
- The GMLRS can be deployed from two notable self-propelled multiple rocket launcher platforms that the U.S. might provide to Ukraine: the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), which has been in service since 1983; and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which has been in service since the early 2000s.
- It’s unclear how many of the advanced, long-range rocket systems could be sent to Ukraine, or which types of munitions, although the training period would likely be about 10 days for Ukrainian crews. That may be revealed in a formal announcement by the Dept. of Defense or State Dept. later this week.
- U.S. Announces New $800M Military Aid Package as Allies Ramp Up Shipments for Ukraine Amid Russia’s Donbas Offensive (4/23/22)
- U.S. Announces New $800M Package for Ukraine, Officials Say American Troops to Train Ukrainians (4/14/22)
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Program Executive Office Missiles and Space via DVIDSHUB / Public Domain)