The latest U.S. military aid package includes a wide range of critical military equipment, but some, including new HIMARS installations, are aimed at supporting Ukraine's long-term defense needs.
This was stated by a senior representative of the Pentagon during a briefing on Wednesday.
The latest aid package includes 18 highly mobile artillery rocket systems, along with the corresponding ammunition. As part of the USAI program, the United States will purchase these systems from the manufacturer for delivery to Ukraine, rather than withdrawing them directly from the US military stockpile, as was done previously with the 16 HIMARS jet systems sent to Ukraine.
According to a senior official of the US Department of Defense, the arrival of the last HIMARS promised to Ukraine may take some time.
"The procurement and delivery of these HIMARS systems and related munitions will take several years. Today's announcement is just the beginning of the procurement process," the official said.
While Ukraine's long-term procurement of the newly developed HIMARS does not prevent the U.S. from continuing to remove existing systems from the arsenal if needed, it is a larger goal of having those systems under contract and in reserve for delivery later, the official said.
"If we don't invest today to buy HIMARS for the future, they won't be there when the Ukrainian armed forces need them in the future," the official said. "It's a really significant investment, and it's designed to ensure that Ukraine has what it needs for the long-term to deter future threats. This by no means precludes us from continuing to invest in their current forces as opportunities arise." which are available today and which we can get today from American stockpiles," he explained.
As noted, planning the future defense needs of Ukraine after the end of the war is not a new concept. In April, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held the first of a series of meetings of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group. The first meeting took place in Germany. Then the minister emphasized the need to ensure not only Ukraine's immediate needs, but also its future defense needs.
"Ukraine needs our help to win today. And they will still need our help when the war is over," Austin said.
Also included in the latest U.S. aid package are 150 Humvees, 150 tactical vehicles, explosive ordnance disposal equipment, body armor and a number of tactical secure communications, surveillance and optics systems.
A Pentagon official also said the package includes 20 multi-purpose radars that can track aerial targets and threats, including mortar and artillery fire, as well as enemy drones.