M270 MLRS Headed to Ukraine? After U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed that his administration would not send long-range missiles to Ukraine, avoiding a situation whereby the United States is responsible for a Ukrainian attack on Russian soil, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly seeking approval from the White House to send medium-range rockets to Ukraine within a matter of weeks.
Politico reported on Wednesday that the British Prime Minister is seeking approval from the White House to supply the Ukrainian military with M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. The missile launchers are capable of striking targets as far away as 80km.
The rocket launchers are less powerful than Ukraine had hoped for, meaning Kyiv is unlikely to launch a counter-offensive on Russian soil – at least for now. However, the advanced rocket systems will help prevent Russia from gaining any more ground in the eastern Donbas region in the coming weeks and months.
The British PM reportedly spoke with President Biden on Wednesday morning about the transfer of M270 rocket systems, before scheduling a call between U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken the next morning. In order for the transfer of the U.S.-made weapons to be complete, the United States must officially approve the decision owing to export regulations.
U.S. Approves Similar Missiles
While the U.S. has not approved the transfer of rocket systems that would allow Ukrainian soldiers to fire missiles at distances of several hundred miles, the Biden administration did agree this week to deploy medium-range missiles similar to those that the United Kingdom intends to send to Ukraine.
President Joe Biden said in a guest essay published by the New York Times that his administration would “provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”
The rocket systems promised by the president are known as “Himars.” The missile launchers can fire missiles at a longer range than the howitzers currently in use by the Ukrainian military, and will be part of a larger $700 million weapons package that was confirmed on Wednesday.
What Is the M270?
The U.S.-made M270 missile launcher that the United Kingdom plans to send to Ukraine is an armored, self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system. Designed and built by Lockheed Martin, the launcher is a mobile automatic surface-to-surface missile launcher that is typically used to supplement cannon weapons and deliver a large volume of missiles in a short timeframe.
The missile launcher can be loaded with 12 rockets, packaged in two separate six-rocket pods. Self-loading and self-aiming, the weapons system will dramatically improve the Ukrainian army’s ability to fend off Russian invaders – using increasingly dated, Soviet-era non-guided missiles – in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.