Ukraine’s military will have a new weapons system to fire Russian drones into the sky as part of a recently unveiled $3 billion US aid package, which the Pentagon has called a show of support long term in the country.
The Biden administration on Wednesday announced what it called the largest military aid package for Ukraine since Russia began its invasion six months ago. The announcement coincided with Ukraine’s Independence Day, and Pentagon officials said the aid was intended to show Russian President Vladimir Putin that waiting for a decrease in Western support for Ukraine will not wouldn’t work.
The United States has committed more than $13.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since January 2021 to help it defend against the larger and better-equipped Russian military.
Previous aid programs endorsed by President Joe Biden have provided Ukraine with stockpiles of US weapons and equipment. The latest package will allow the United States to procure weapons from arms manufacturers that will be passed on to Ukraine.
“This will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and ammunition, unmanned aerial systems and radar to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term.” , Biden said in a statement praising Ukraine for resisting the Russian invasion.
The new aid program includes “VAMPIRE Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems” to Ukrainians. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Colin Kahl, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, described it as “a kinetic system. It basically uses small missiles to fire (unmanned aerial systems) from the sky”.
Unmanned aerial systems, or “drones”, played an important role in the war. Ukraine and Russia have actively sought drones from allied countries.
Kahl provided few other details about the anti-drone system, including its manufacturer and how it fits into the larger strategy of helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia.
But L3 Harris, an American weapons manufacturer, confirmed to Breaking Defense that it was the manufacturer of the VAMPIRE, “Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment”. The company told the outlet that the system includes a four-barreled rocket launcher and a suite of sensors designed to be easily installed on pickup trucks and utility vehicles.
The company said in a statement to the media that the system means Ukraine will have “even more robust capabilities as it continues to defend its country and democracy in Europe.”
The new US aid program will also include surface-to-air missile systems, including up to 245,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition and up to 65,000 rounds of 120mm mortar ammunition .
In addition, the United States will provide Ukraine with 24 counter-artillery radars, Puma unmanned aerial systems and support equipment for Scan Eagle unmanned aerial systems, according to the Pentagon. The training and maintenance of new weapon systems will also be covered.
“The set of capabilities here is really aimed at providing Ukraine with what it will need in the medium to long term,” Kahl said. “So it’s irrelevant for today’s fight, tomorrow, next week.”
Instead, Kahl said the aid was intended to bolster Ukraine’s defenses in a year or two, in response to Putin’s refusal to give up his territorial ambitions over the former Soviet republic.
Previous military aid programs were aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s immediate defenses, Kahl said. With the Pentagon determined to play a long game with Russia, it said the Ukrainian military would be rooted in fewer systems that are easier to maintain and maintain.
Newsweek has contacted L3 Harris for comment.