The United States and several of its Western allies announced a new round of military (and humanitarian) aid for Ukraine.
United States$ 1 billion:
- 18 155mm Howitzers;
- 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition;
- 18 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers;
- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems;
- Four Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment;
- Spare parts and other equipment.
- Two Harpoon coastal defense systems;
- Thousands of secure radios;
- Thousands of Night Vision devices, thermal sights, and other optics;
- Funding for training, maintenance, sustainment, transportation, and administrative costs.
3 MLRS M270 launchers and ammunition
10 M777 howitzers
Replacement M777 barrels
Mi17 attack helicopters (it has four left in its entire fleet)
Missiles and parts
Poland and Netherlands:
More artillery (undisclosed amounts. Netherlands is also sending additional Harpoon anti-ship missiles, alongside the US, UK, and Denmark.
The reaction to this new aid package was typically hysterical. It’s too little! It’s too late! Why are they so slow! Only 18 M777s? Ukraine needs 1,000!
Ukraine won’t get 1,000 155 mm artillery pieces, and it does not need them. I will not rehash the argument I made in my last update, you can read it here. (As you’ll see further below, Ukraine hasn’t even officially asked for that many.)
Too slow? This isn’t Amazon next-day delivery. Ukraine’s logistical chain is already heavily stressed by existing weapons systems, adding new ones only makes the challenge harder. 36,000 artillery shells isn’t enough? No shit. That’s this week’s supply. Ukraine announced they currently have 110% of the artillery ammunition they had when the war started. This adds to those stockpiles. The US and allies have sent over half a million artillery shells, and counting. Coastal defense systems are expensive. Ukraine wanted them, and considered the logistical lift important enough to prioritize them over more artillery or other equipment for the time being.
Night vision goggles cost between $ 8-15,000 each. I have no idea how much thermal imaging systems cost. Probably more. Ukraine is getting thousands of them. Ukraine already has an advantage in night combat operations. The more infantry it can properly equip with such equipment, the more it will be able to operate at night when Russia is blind, its artillery ineffective.
And yes, the “spare parts” bullet point could very well be several hundred millions of dollars. There have been reports that Ukraine has had to ship M777s to Poland for maintenance and repair. What’s more important? Another M777 howitzer, or the maintenance equipment to keep all ~ 140 of them already in Ukraine operational and firing?
Yes, support and maintenance is not sexy. It’s not 1,000 HOWITZERS. But it’s the lifeblood of any military, and especially so in wartime. Without it, you get what Russia did at the start of the war — abandoned tanks after running out of fuel or mechanical problems, gifting Ukraine hundreds of armored vehicles.
Critics were also unhappy with the lack of new HIMARS announcements from the United States.
The US just graduated the first class of Ukrainian artillerymen training on the system. The size of the training class is one platoon — three launchers. We do not even have crews for the 10 systems headed to Ukraine. But the real bottleneck is ammunition. The US announced the allies were shipping 100 rockets per launcher, for the 10 MLRS platforms headed to Ukraine (4 US, 3 UK, 3 German). Presumably, that‘s 100 podsnot rockets, because the latter would be stupid beyond words. Assuming 100 pods, they can burn through that ammo in less than a week.
A single HIMAR or M270 can sit in the middle of the Donbas hitting targets all around it. That’s what its extended range allows.
Why would Ukraine need more launchers if it’ll be a while before Ukraine has enough ammunition to keep a single launcher firing for more than a handful of days?
So yeah, four in Donbas, three in Kharkiv, and three in Kherson fronts is literally enough to keep those fronts covered, even if a third of them are inoperable at any given time like when I worked with M270s 30 years ago. As long as rocket pods are the bottleneck, there’s no need for more launchers. And certainly not the 300 that Ukraine claims it needs. The logistics of 300 MLRS are just not realistic.
When pods are just sitting around with nothing to fire them, then it’s time to send more launchers. Given that Ukrainian logistics are already stressed trying to keep the existing war effort supplies, it’ll take a while to build new logistical capacity.
Meanwhile, note that not every nation is as loud about their contributions as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Flights like these are very common;
In fact, I’ve seen more Italian Air Force flights into Rzeszow the past few weeks than almost any other country. Yet they’ve never once made a broad announcement about what they’re sending. They’d rather help quietly, rather than rub it in Russia’s nose. Same with the French and even the Germans, as much shit as they get. Stuff is flowing in 24/7.
At a press conference, General Mark Miley, the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, summarized Western responsiveness to Ukrainian requests:
These are official requests from their Department of Defense. They asked for 10 battalions of artillery; 12 battalions of artillery were delivered. Again, I’d say 97,000 antitank systems. That’s more anti-tank systems than tanks in the world. They asked for 200 tanks; they got 237 tanks. They asked for 100 infantry fighting vehicles; they got over 300. We’ve delivered, roughly speaking, 1,600 or so air defense systems and about 60,000 air defense rounds. This is – when I say “us”, I mean the international community. You’re looking at 260 artillery tube systems. Either rocket or tube artillery have already been delivered. There’s 383 committed, and like I said, almost half a million rounds of artillery.
This isn’t the stuff in the media of “we need 1,000 howitzers!” stuff. Miley was blunt that those weren’t real requests: “everything General Zaluzhnyi asked for […] we get it done as quickly as we can. So I do not know where those numbers are that you’re coming from. ”
Does Ukraine want more weapons? Of course it does. Does the US want to help more? There’s billions of dollars in spending authorization for more. If it could all be announced and delivered today, they would. They’re not sitting on those billions for funsies.
One final note, Miley said Ukraine has received 260 artillery systems from allies, which means that a lot of systems are flowing in unannounced. Another 120 are on the way, but only 28 of those are US and Canada, so again, lots more unannounced guns are on the way.