ATACMS to Ukraine? The United Kingdom is close to sending long-range missiles to Ukraine that can reach deep behind Russian lines, including the Crimean Peninsula, according to reports.
Kyiv’s quest for missiles with longer ranges than its existing munitions seems to be finally close to a successful end.
Long-Range Missiles for Ukraine
The Washington Post reported that the U.K. is moving toward providing Ukraine with a long-range munition that could reach targets up to 190 miles away.
The Post indicated that although there is no final decision yet, the U.K. might be leaning toward the Storm Shadow munition, an air-launched cruise missile.
The Ukrainian military is about to launch a large-scale counteroffensive, and any new weapon system could help.
What’s Up with the ATACMS?
Now that the U.K. seems poised to break ground once more and send the first new types of weapon systems to Ukraine, the U.S. military is once more pressured to send the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
The ATACMS can be fired from the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) or M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and can reach targets up to 190 miles away—the same range the U.K. is looking for its munition.
U.S. officials don’t seem ready to relent and give the ATACMS to Ukraine even if the U.K. goes ahead and provides a long-range munition with similar capabilities.
The main argument against sending Ukraine the ATACMS is that the U.S. military has a limited number of the long-range munitions. Committing any of its ATACMS to Ukraine, U.S. officials argue, would leave the U.S. military in a weaker position.
“From a military standpoint, we have relatively few ATACMS, we do have to make sure that we maintain our own munitions inventories, as well,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley had said in an interview a few weeks ago.
The war in Ukraine has highlighted how precious precision munitions are to a modern military.
Although the U.S. fields the most advanced military force in the world, munition stockpiles are limited.
nd as the world’s superpower, the U.S. has to be ready to respond to contingencies in multiple parts of the world. For example, as tensions with China over Taiwan continue to increase, the U.S. military has to be ready to fight in the Indo-Pacific.
U.S. officials also continue to be hesitant to send certain weapon systems to Ukraine, including munitions with longer ranges that can reach targets within Russian territory, because of the fear of escalation.
Since the start of the war, Ukrainian forces have repeatedly attacked targets of military value deep behind the frontlines.
The White House assesses that if it provides advanced weapon systems to Kyiv and Ukrainian forces use them to attack targets within Russia, then the Kremlin might use that as an excuse to further escalate the war.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.