U.S. sends ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles to Ukraine

By Defence Industry Europe

The U.S. State Department confirmed that it has covertly supplied Ukraine with long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) this spring. The decision, directed by President Joe Biden, aims to bolster Ukraine's defences against Russian advances.

 

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel disclosed the information during a press briefing on April 24, following inquiries about a Reuters report that same day. According to Patel, President Biden ordered the secretive deployment of the ATACMS to be used within Ukrainian territory as early as February. These missiles were part of a broader $300 million military aid package announced on March 12, while discussions about additional aid continued in Congress.

 

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The move to include the ATACMS was strategically kept under wraps to maintain operational surprise, Reuters cited from an unnamed U.S. official. The U.S. had previously delivered older mid-range models of the ATACMS to Ukraine last fall, which have a range of 165 kilometers. However, the latest shipments include newer models with a maximum range of about 300 kilometers, a capability not previously disclosed to the public.

Kyiv’s military used some of these newly received long-range missiles on April 17 to strike a Russian airfield in Dzhankoi, Crimea, which is approximately 165 kilometers from the frontline. This operation underscores the strategic importance of the enhanced weaponry in extending Ukraine’s reach within the conflict zone.

 

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The delivery of these advanced missiles comes after extended deliberations within the U.S. government and the Pentagon, which expressed concerns about depleting its own missile stockpiles and impacting U.S. military readiness. These concerns were reportedly resolved by January, paving the way for the missile transfer.

 

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