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US looking at new weapons to help Ukraine expand distance and range

The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. (Dreamstime/TNS)

The Pentagon is considering Ukraine’s requests for more advanced weapons to “give them a little more range and distance,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks told reporters Tuesday.

While the United States has provided billions of dollars in military aid and equipment to Ukraine —$1.7 billion since the start of the invasion alone and $300 million announced in April—the Ukrainians have repeatedly asked for advanced weapons and air defense systems to repel Russian forces.  So far, the U.S. has sent Ukraine some 50 million rounds of ammunition, according to CSIS. They’ve also provided more than 1,400 Stingers, 5,000 Javelins, Puma and Switchblade drones, and more, according to a White House fact sheet.

That’s led some to wonder if the United States has a large enough stockpile of those weapons to continue to arm the Ukrainian military.

“Total production [of Javelin systems] has been 37,739 since production began in 1994. Every year, U.S. forces use some missiles for training and testing. Thus, there may be 20,000 to 25,000 remaining in the stockpiles,” CSIS’s Mark F. Cancian said in a post Tuesday, estimating that the Javelins sent to Ukraine represent about a third of the total U.S. inventory.

“Military planners are likely getting nervous,” he said. “The United States maintains stocks for a variety of possible global conflicts that may occur against North Korea, Iran, or Russia itself. At some point, those stocks will get low enough that military planners will question whether the war plans can be executed. The United States is likely approaching that point.”

Hicks on Tuesday said the United States is in constant contact with other NATO partners on how to get more arms into Ukraine. She’s also been taking a lot more meetings with U.S. defense contractors on the subject.

“I will meet with Raytheon’s CEO today and have a CEO roundtable tomorrow on this very topic in a classified format,” she said. Raytheon is one of the joint developers of the Javelin.

The United States is also helping Ukraine with intelligence.

“We know the intel support that we provide has been vital. The Ukrainians have been very clear about that publicly as well. We will continue to do that, which I consider to be pretty high end,” she said.

Without specifying precisely what was in it, Hicks said that the White House is set to announce a new aid package to Ukraine in the coming days.

Hicks made her remarks during a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast.


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