The Pentagon on Wednesday confirmed that a new military aid package for Ukraine, worth $300 million, is on its way. In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that the United States remains committed to its promise to support Ukraine until the conflict ends.
“The United States and our allies and partners will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Blinken said on Wednesday.
The package, the 37th to be approved since the Russian invasion began last year, brings the United States’ total support for Ukraine to $35.7 billion. The latest package will include more artillery and mortar rounds, heavy transport equipment, spare parts for field equipment, and antiarmor technology.
Notably, the latest aid package will also include the Hydra-70 short-range air-to-surface rocket systems for the first time.
In a statement announcing the new package, the Department of Defense said that the United States has led 11 meetings of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is a group of more than 50 countries committed to supporting Ukraine in its efforts to resist the Russian invasion.
Ammunition and military equipment sent in this latest round of aid is expected to come from existing U.S. stockpiles. While it means that Ukraine will receive the equipment faster than if the supplies were procured from private industry or elsewhere, the move is likely to draw criticism from Republicans over fears that continued support for Ukraine will weaken the United States military.
Why the Hydra-70 Matters
Manufactured by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, the Hydra-70 rocket system is a lightweight American rocket system commonly used on military helicopters. Between 55 and 70 inches long, 2.75 inches in diameter, and up to 27lbs in weight, Hydra-70 rockets have a maximum range of 10,500m. The launcher can be used with nine warheads, all designed for different combat environments.
Among the rockets used by the Hydra-70 system is the M257 illuminating flare, the M151 high-explosive rocket, and the M264 smoke warhead – the latter of which is commonly used for blocking vision using red phosphorus smoke.
The arrival of new air-to-surface rocket systems raises could suggest that Ukraine is preparing to use its helicopters and fighter jets in its rumored upcoming counteroffensive. Such a move, however, would be a significant departure from Ukraine’s tactics so far.
NATO forces have remained reluctant throughout the conflict to supply fighter jets and aircraft to Ukraine, not just over fears that Russia may see it as an escalation in the conflict, but because unmanned aerial vehicles have proven so effective on the battlefield for both sides.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He 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.