By Micaela Burrow for Daily Caller News Foundation
The U.S. is preparing to send longer-range missiles to Ukraine for the first time in an upcoming aid package, which is expected to value at $2.2 billion, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing U.S. officials.
The majority of the funding, more than 1.7 billion, will be used to contract for weapons directly from the defense industry and take advantage of a new proposal from Boeing and Saab AB to produce the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) for the first time, two U.S. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The GLSDB has a range of 94 miles, longer than the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS, rockets supplied to Ukraine up to this point and capable of penetrating behind Russian lines, according to analysts at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The package will also include precision-guided munitions, javelin anti-tank weapons and additional equipment to support a battery of the Patriot air defense system provided to Ukraine in December, the officials told Reuters.
A majority of the funding will be drawn from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), a Department of Defense program allowing the administration to contract new weapons from defense companies instead of drawing from existing U.S. stocks, Reuters reported.
The GLSDB will allow Ukraine to strike targets in Russian-occupied Crimea and reach behind Russian lines, aiding efforts to drive the Russians back, according to the analysts. However, the U.S. will continue to deny Ukraine’s requests for ATACMS, weapons with a range of 185 miles or nearly twice that of the GLSDB, Reuters reported.
The GLSDB is a combination of two systems that exist widely among U.S. stocks, the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and the M26 rocket motor, Reuters reported. The composite weapons are GPS-guided and capable of destroying armored vehicles, according to the Saab website.
The U.S. will also send medical equipment sufficient to equip three field hospitals another Ukraine ally plans to donate, the officials told Reuters.
An additional $400 million will be allocated for GMLRS and additional ammunition under the Presidential Drawdown Authority, an emergency provision allowing the U.S. president to deplete existing U.S. stocks in an emergency situation, the officials told Reuters.
The aid package could be announced as soon as this week, the officials told the outlet, and follows a decision on Jan. 25 to send a full Ukrainian battalion of M1 Abrams tanks, also under USAI authority. U.S. officials characterized the delivery as a signal of long-term commitment to Ukraine’s security.
The U.S. has provided roughly $27.1 billion in weapons and equipment since the beginning of the war as of Jan. 25, a DOD fact sheet shows. That includes the tanks, which cost more than $10 million apiece including maintenance and sustainment, although officials did not provide a final cost estimate at the time of the announcement.
DOD and the National Security Council did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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