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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

HIMARS On the Way to Ukraine (In A Few Years?)

HIMARS
U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 65th Field Artillery Brigade fire a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during a joint live-fire exercise with the Kuwait Land Forces, Jan. 8, 2019, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The U.S. and Kuwaiti forces train together frequently to maintain a high level of combat readiness and to maintain effective communication between the two forces. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Bill Boecker)

To better take the fight to the enemy and maintain the momentum of the counterattack, the Ukrainians need more firepower. And they are getting it in the latest $1.1 billion military aid package from the United States, announced on September 28. Eighteen High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers are on the way to Kyiv. These lethal rockets have been effective against Russian supply depots and ammunition dumps. The United States had previously sent 16 HIMARS launchers so this will more than double the numbers. 

But Ukraine Can’t Wait for HIMARS

Unfortunately, this new batch of rocket systems will take a “few years” to be constructed and delivered, which is not the news Kyiv wanted to hear. But 20 other countries will grow their defense industries to make more powerful weapons for Ukraine. The U.S. aid flows from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative which funds contracts for overseas delivery to Ukrainian forces. The total military assistance from the Biden administration is nearing $17 billion.

The Pentagon is using “drawdown authority” to quicken the handover of HIMARS launchers and rocket ammunition to the war-torn country. But HIMARS must be built rather than taken from existing supplies.

Weapons for the Long Haul

A senior Pentagon official speaking on condition of anonymity in a DOD news release said, “If we don’t invest today to procure HIMARS for the future, they won’t be there when the Ukrainian armed forces need them down the road,” the official said. “This is a really sizable investment and it’s intended so that down the road, Ukraine will have what it needs for the long-haul to deter future threats. It in no way rules out us continuing to invest in their current force with capabilities that are available today, and that we can draw down today from U.S. stocks.”

Ukraine Wishes the Delivery Could Be Quicker

This is a good news-bad news situation for the Ukrainians. They greatly appreciate the existing HIMARS force that has helped turn the tide in the war by creating logistical problems for Russian forces. But the frustrating part is that the HIMARS launchers will have to be built in the coming months and Kyiv cannot afford to wait. 

More Russian Troops Will Eventually Enter the Fray

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a manpower mobilization of 300,000 soldiers being called up from reserve rosters. If these forces arrive in numbers, even though many of the conscripts are out of shape and out of practice when it comes to combat, Ukraine will need more long-range multiple launch rocket systems to maintain the initiative.

Facts About HIMARS

HIMARS, made by Lockheed Martin, fires from a six-rocket rapid-fire launcher pod. The rockets, with 200-pound warheads, are GPS-guided and accurate with a range of up to 50 miles. This is almost twice the range of the M777 towed-howitzer that the United States has also provided to Ukraine. HIMARS is so accurate that it can be fired dangerously close to soldiers, who are 656 feet from the impact zone, which means it could save friendly troops who are under attack at close range. The system can be deployed around the clock and in all weather.

Get Up and Go 

It is transported by a five-ton truck that can go 58 miles per hour, enabling “shoot and scoot” techniques by setting up, firing, and breaking down in minutes. There is a three-soldier crew. The whole system weighs 16.25 tons. Ukraine started out using HIMARS against ammo dumps and other supply depots. Then it started firing at command posts plus engaging troops in the open and in their barracks. The U.S. Army has said that HIMARS has destroyed at least 100 high-value targets. But due to its GPS guidance, HIMARS is better at engaging stationary targets instead of aiming at moving tanks and armored vehicles.

HIMARS

HIMARS test. Image Credit: Wisconsin National Guard.

Ukraine will have to wait for more HIMARS launchers and hope the United States continues to supply the rockets. Russia used to think storing equipment and ammunition in the rear echelon would be safe. With HIMARS, Ukraine has shown the Russians that they cannot hide from the multiple-launch rockets. It is too bad the new batch of game-changing launchers will not come for many months.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. 403Forbidden

    September 30, 2022 at 1:05 am

    Hmm, what’s on the way is megiddo moment or moment of reckoning for ukros.

    Putin is now signing decrees for incorporating kherson, zaporizhzhia, luhansk and donetsk officially into russia federation.

    That’s the big price for zelenskiyy wanting to join NATO and act as puppet for bidenand stotenberg.

    Once winter sets in and ukros continue to attack civilians in those 4 areas, russia will hit zelenskiyy like he’d never been hit before.

    What’s on the way is kaput day for ukros and kyiv.

  2. Jacksonian Libertarian

    September 30, 2022 at 4:25 am

    Generals always want more of everything, even if they barely understand how to effectively use what they already have. The Combat Power of some weapons is so great that even poorly used, a handful can change the momentum of a war (Javelin, Drones, HIMARS, etc.).

    Combat Power rule of thumb: 1 smart weapon = 500 dumb weapons

  3. Steven

    September 30, 2022 at 9:15 am

    Interesting Russian Psychology. Any day now, Russia is “really going to fight” then the world will see its power. LOL, you people are ridiculously stupid. Living in denial in a fantasy world.

  4. Dr. Scooter Van Neuter

    September 30, 2022 at 4:27 pm

    Putin will undoubtedly be overthrown by powers within his government that understand he is on course to destroy their country.

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