In a fresh round of military assistance to Ukraine, the US could equip Kyiv with Excalibur precision-guided artillery munitions, Politico reported, citing sources.
The White House recently announced that US President Joe Biden had signed a memorandum approving the withdrawal of $775 million in military aid to Ukraine. The report stated that the Excalibur weapons were not a part of this round and that the precise delivery date was still to be determined.
The report added that new precision weaponry, apparently able to target “dug-in Russian positions and command posts,” is on its way from the US to the Ukrainian military.
The AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile, which would let Ukrainian forces target Russian radars in the artillery-focused fight, is also included in the current shipment of US aid to Ukraine. This is the first time the Pentagon has mentioned the transfer of high-speed anti-radiation missiles to Ukraine.
The US is also dispatching 15 ScanEagle surveillance drones to assist the Ukrainians in identifying and taking precise artillery and rocket strikes.
The small drones are maneuverable across the battlefield and will be crucial in the anticipated effort to recapture Kherson in the south.
Other assets in the shipment indicate preparations are being made for Ukrainian ground soldiers to advance in the south, where fighting has been at a standstill for several weeks as the conflict has turned into a protracted, brutal artillery battle.
Other Weapons In The Package
Other weapons that the US is also supplying for the first time are the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, a small anti-armor weapon used by American special operations units, and sixteen 105mm howitzers (36,000 rounds of ammunition).
Additionally, the assistance includes TOW-guided anti-tank missile systems and 40 heavily armored MaxxPro mine-resistant vehicles initially developed for American soldiers in Iraq at the height of the conflict.
The assistance comes days after the United States announced it would provide $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine. This assistance includes more guided multiple launch rocket system ammunition for the 16 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS.
Despite not using HIMARS to recover a sizable portion of territory, Ukrainian forces have shelled and crippled several Russian positions. “You’re seeing this hollowing out of the Russian forces in Ukraine, but with implication for their longer-term sustainability,” the defense official said.
The revelation comes after Russia and Ukraine both accused each other of bombarding Europe’s largest nuclear power facility in Zaporizhzhia, fanning global concerns of a catastrophe on the continent.
“We are very concerned about military operations at or near any of Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities and are very concerned about any reports of damage to specifically the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s power lines,” the defense official said.
“We’ve been very clear that fighting near a nuclear power plant is dangerous and irresponsible. And we want the fighters and Russia to operate with extreme caution and conduct no actions that would result in a potential radiological release,” the official added.
The new assistance is a part of the $40 billion in security and economic aid that Congress approved and was signed into law in May. It is the 19th shipment of military weaponry and equipment to Ukraine since the conflict began on February 24.
According to Phillips O’Brien, a defense strategy expert, the new list of US weapons appears to be “for when the Ukrainians are ready to try a major advance.”
On August 19, explosions were reported close to military outposts located both inside Russia and in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine.
In televised remarks, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said that the Ukrainian officials’ claim that they have struck infrastructure in the Russian-occupied Crimea represents “an escalation of the conflict openly endorsed by the United States and its NATO allies.”
Moscow has frequently warned Washington to refrain from arming Ukraine, claiming that such actions would “pour oil on the fire.” However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top officials have requested heavy weapons from their allies to support the country’s forces as they resist Russia’s military advance.