Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Drones, Missiles and Rockets: Joe Biden Is Giving Ukraine An Arsenal to Fight Russia

Clearly, Washington wants to give Ukraine as much support as possible to fight Russia. But what is the overall strategy?

TOW Missile Mariupol Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Expert Analysis of What the Biden Administration Is Sending Now to Ukraine: Indicating that fighting in Ukraine will continue, the Biden administration announced they will be sending new weapons to Ukraine, as part of a $775 million package.

“This authorization is the Biden Administration’s eighteenth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021,” The Department of Defense website stated. “It is the largest single drawdown of U.S. arms and equipment utilizing this authority, and this package provides a significant amount of additional ammunition, weapons, and equipment – the types of which the Ukrainian people are using so effectively to defend their country.” The package includes drones, armored vehicles, and artillery. 

Most notably, the package will include 15 ScanEagle surveillance drones – which the US has never sent to Ukraine before. The ScanEagle, developed by Boeing Insitu, is a small, long-endurance, low-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle. Curiously, the ScanEagle is derived from a drone that was not built for warfare; the ScanEagle is descended from the SeaScan, a drone built to collect weather data and assist commercial fishermen find schools of tuna. In Ukraine, rather than track tuna, the ScanEagle will be used to “spot and correct the precision artillery and rocket strikes that have taken a toll on Russian forces,” according to POLITICO. 

While the ScanEagle gift supplements artillery operations, which have been ongoing, other aspects of the aid package suggest that fighting intensity will increase. “Other items included in the tranche suggest preparations are underway for Ukrainian ground troops to make that push in the south where fighting has been at a stalemate for weeks as the war has settled into one long, punishing artillery duel,” POLITICO reported. The other items include 40 MaxxPro mine-resistant vehicles, which as the name suggests are heavily armored. The MaxxPro was developed for US forces operating in Iraq, who had to slog through roadside bombs. In Ukraine, where the Russians have created heavily concentrated minefields along roads and within fields, the MaxxPro will help to pave ways by which Ukrainian troops can move (more) safely. 

Also included in the package are TOW guided anti-tank missile systems. The TOW, or “Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided,” is an American-made anti-tank missile. In service since 1970, the TOW offers an excellent range and a powerful warhead, with a semi-automatic guidance system that can be outfitted with an infrared camera for nighttime use. At just under $100,000 per unit, the TOW system is relatively affordable. 

The US is also sending sixteen 105mm howitzers along with 36,000 rounds; and – especially telling – 2,000 rounds for the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle – a Saab product and what looks like a bazooka-style rocket launcher. The Carl Gustaf is a small anti-armor weapon that US special forces often use. The Gustaf “can be carried easily and is designed to work in close quarters with an enemy,” according to POLITICO, suggesting that “the Ukrainians expect close-in fighting in the coming weeks.”  

Carl Gustaf

Carl Gustaf. Image Credit: Saab.

There’s more. The US will include AGM-88 HARM, or High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. Launched from a fighter jet, the AGM-88 is a tactical, air-to-surface missile designed to home in on electronic transmissions coming from surface-to-air radar systems – meaning, the missile is especially effective at killing enemy radar. Designed by Texas Instruments, the AGM-88 HARM has been in use with the US since 1985. Each missile costs about $284,000.  

The US has already sent egregious amounts of aid to Ukraine. The most recently announced $775 million is another drop in the bucket. “In total, the United States has now committed approximately $9.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration,” The Department of Defense website boasts.  

Expectations hold that the US will continue funding the Ukrainian war effort. Future weapons packages are already being considered; as a source told POLITICO, the US is planning to send Excalibur precision-guided artillery munitions – a Raytheon product – in an upcoming package at “some point in the future.” The Excalibur munitions would “give the Ukrainians a new precision weapons with which to target dug-in Russian positions and command posts.”

Hopes that the US might assist or encourage the Ukrainians sue for peace seem misplaced. The US is clearly invested in helping Ukraine prolong the war indefinitely.  

What the Experts Told 19FortyFive

“At nearly $10 billion and counting, the Biden Administration seems to be going all in to help Ukraine not only defend itself but even can some offensive capability,” explained national security expert Harry J. Kazianis, President of the Rogue States Project. “My question is this: What is the overall goal of the Biden Administration’s Ukraine strategy? Is the goal for Ukraine to take back every inch of territory that Russia has seized? What about Crimea? How long will the war go? How much will Biden be prepared to spend? How to they plan to ensure Putin does not try to respond if he feels he is losing? To me, none of these questions have been answered.”

Harrison Kass is the Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.