The U.S. has approved a new $625 million weapons package for Ukraine, which will include sending Kyiv four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) launchers.

The new security aid deal, which includes capabilities to be drawn from existing Pentagon inventories, arrives as Ukraine pushes ahead with its counter-offensive amid Russia’s attempts to annex regions of the country as part of its ongoing invasion.

Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (RUE) Laura Cooper answers questions from the media during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2022. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jack Sanders).

“The capabilities in this package are tailored to meet Ukraine’s immediate needs,” Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasian affairs, told reporters on Tuesday. “This package will provide the Ukrainian Armed Forces with additional capabilities and munitions that it needs to maintain momentum in the East and in the South, including additional artillery and precision fires. Ukraine has demonstrated the ability to use these capabilities to degrade Russian logistics and command and control, creating opportunities for Ukraine to maneuver and to advance. This has created, as Secretary Austin said recently, a change in battlefield dynamics.”

Along with the new HIMARS, the U.S. will provide Ukraine with 16 M119 105mm howitzers, 16 M777 155mm howitzers, 75,000 155mm artillery rounds, 500 Excalibur precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds and 1,000 155mm rounds of remote anti-armor mine systems.

The new package, which is the 22nd presidential drawdown package, also includes 30,000 120mm mortar rounds, 200 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, obstacle emplacement equipment and Claymore anti-personnel munitions.

Last week, the U.S. approved a $1.1 billion weapons package with capabilities to be procured using Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds and which included plans to eventually provide Kyiv with 18 more HIMARS launchers (Defense Daily, Sept. 28). 

Cooper noted the Pentagon will provide additional GMLRS rockets for the HIMARS launchers as part of the new package announced on Tuesday, and was asked about Ukraine’s request for the U.S. to provide longer-range ATACMS missiles.

 “In terms of [ATACMS], but again with other capabilities as well, we’re looking at what the battlefield needs are. And it’s our assessment that, with the existing GMLRS capability that they have on the HIMARS and that we’re providing more of with this package, they can reach the vast majority of targets on the battlefield,” Cooper said.

ATACMS can reach out to 300 kilometers, more than three times the ability of GMLRS’ max range. Lockheed Martin [LMT] builds the two munitions as well the HIMARS launchers.

Congress last week passed a stopgap funding bill to keep the government open through Dec. 16, which also included $12.3 billion in new Ukraine aid supplemental funding (Defense Daily, Sept. 30). 

The Ukraine supplemental funding included in the continuing resolution covers $3 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative as well as $3.7 billion in presidential drawdown authority for the transfer of equipment from existing Pentagon inventories.

The bill also includes $1.5 billion to help replenish stockpiles of equipment sent to Ukraine and $540 million to increase production of critical munitions.