This week, U.S. officials announced a new aid package for Ukraine, totaling a whopping $1.2 billion. This security assistance package, in addition to previous shipments provided to Kyiv, is meant to enhance the country’s air defenses.
Included in the package is conventional artillery, counter-drone ammunition, funding for military training, and satellite imagery services.
According to the Associated Press, the weapons and equipment in this package will be paid from Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funding, which enables the U.S. to purchase from industry rather than pulling from American stockpiles.
This news coincides with the collaborative effort by the U.S. and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to provide Ukraine with modern main battle tanks (MBTs) in the upcoming months.
Kyiv is preparing for its highly anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces and this aid package will undoubtedly support its defensive efforts.
The U.S. Defense Department justified its most recent aid package as an indicator of America’s commitment to supporting Ukraine, “by committing critical near-term capabilities, such as air defense systems and munitions, while also building the capacity of Ukraine’s armed forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term.”
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky eagerly accepted the package as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine shown on a symbolic day for us — Europe Day and the Day of Victory over Nazism in WWII.”
Howitzer: specs and capabilities
The Lightweight 155mm Howitzer provides direct, reinforcing and artillery fire support to forces. A detonating fuse, propellant, projectile, and prime make up the structure of the very big bullet. Each round weighs roughly 100 pounds and can be fired in Howitzer systems. The semi-cannon, semi-mortar Howitzers weigh around 10,000 pounds and have a maximum range of 15 to 20 miles.
While this seems hefty, “the extensive use of titanium in all of its major structures makes the M777 7,000 pounds lighter than its predecessor with no sacrifice in range, stability, accuracy or mobility. The M777’s independent suspension, smaller footprint and lower profile increase strategic deploy-ability and tactical mobility,” according to the Army.
The 155mm rounds are very popular among Ukrainian soldiers since the rounds are large enough to cause sufficient damage to targets while maintaining a solid range. Last year, the Pentagon revealed it had provided upwards of 160 155mm howitzers with more than 1.5 million 155mm rounds to Ukraine. The U.S. is not the only country to have provided Kyiv with these weapons and munitions. Germany, Canada, Estonia, and Italy are among the other nations that have sent this equipment to support Ukraine.
While the recent aid package should not include Howitzers in America’s stockpiles, some experts believe the U.S. is running low on these formidable weapons. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, M119 howitzer numbers are limited since the U.S. Army only procured 425 total.
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.