The White House will send four additional rocket launchers to Ukraine, as part of a new $450 million package of military assistance, the Department of Defense announced on Thursday.
The move will double the number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems sent to Ukraine amid that nation’s battle with Russian forces for control of the eastern Donbas region.
“The United States continues to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its evolving battlefield requirements,” acting Pentagon press secretary Todd Breasseale said on Thursday in a news release.
In addition to the rocket launchers, the aid package also includes weapons and equipment such as rounds of ammunition, tactical vehicles, machine guns and patrol boats.
National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said at Thursday’s White House press briefing that the new aid package would bring the United States’ total security assistance to Ukraine to about $6.1 billion since Feb. 24.
“The United States will continue to bolster Ukraine’s defenses and support its sovereignty and its territorial integrity,” Kirby said. “The bravery and determination of the Ukrainian armed forces, let alone their fellow citizens, continues to inspire the world, and we are committed to standing with them as they fight for their freedom.”
The news comes days after POLITICO first reported that officials crafting the next tranche of aid at the Pentagon were leaning toward sending four units of the HIMARS mobile rocket launcher.
The first four units the U.S. approved arrived in Ukraine this week, along with medium-range rockets that can strike targets up to 50 miles away, Ukrainian officials announced. The United Kingdom is also sending three units of a similar weapon, the American-made M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, with a range of 50 miles. Germany will also transfer three M270s to Kyiv.
The first group of roughly 60 Ukrainians being trained on the HIMARS is now ready to use them, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said last week.
The Associated Press first reported that the White House is set to announce a new $450 million package of military aid to Ukraine and that it will include HIMARS, but did not report how many units the tranche would include.