July 16, 2024

The US Army is ready to send Ukraine long-range ATACMS missiles equipped with cluster munitions as soon as President Joe Biden approves the transfer.

Source: Bloomberg

Details: This was stated in an interview by Douglas Bush, the US Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition.

He said that the Army “has been postured for this eventuality for a while”.

He stressed that the US is ready to “go fast”.

There are several versions of the missiles, including those with cluster warheads or conventional warheads. The cluster MANPADS has a range of 25 to 300 kilometres. According to the official service manual, they carry 300 to 950 cluster munitions.

Bush said that the missiles the US will send have already been identified.

ATACMS missiles can be launched from the same launchers that Ukraine already uses to launch GPS-guided missiles in batches of six at a time.

The difference is that only one ATACMS missile is fired in a round from one launcher.

The modifications required to convert the launcher, as Bush said, are “not that much, some cables, some software – it’s not dramatic”.

Quote: “We’re ready when and if the president decides to do this.”

More details: Last month, Bush told reporters that the US Army is preparing for the first deliveries of the first version of the replacement, the ATACMS, called the Precision Strike Missile. Both missiles are manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp.

US lawmakers have been urging Biden to send ATACMS to Ukraine for months, and people familiar with the matter said last month that the US president finally relented, telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his visit to Washington last month that he was ready to do so.

Background:

  • According to NBC News, Biden told Zelenskyy at a meeting at the White House that Washington would transfer a small number of ATACMS missiles to help in the war against Russia.

  • Washington has previously explained its refusal to transfer long-range missiles by saying that the United States does not have sufficient stocks of these weapons. Another reason, which has been privately voiced by US officials, is the fear of escalation by Russia.

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