By C. Todd Lopez
Missiles for the HAWK air defense system, along with four Avenger air defense systems and Stinger missiles are headed to Ukraine as part of a presidential drawdown authority security assistance package worth up to $400 million, the Defense Department announced Thursday.
Due to Russia’s continuing air attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, additional air defense capabilities are critical, said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh during a briefing Thursday.
“The HAWK missiles, which will be refurbished using Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds, will complement Spain’s recent commitment of HAWK launchers to help Ukraine meet this threat,” she said. “The Avenger short-range air defense systems will also provide Ukraine with capability to protect Ukrainian troops and critical infrastructure against unmanned aerial systems and helicopters.”
As part of this drawdown, Singh said, the U.S. will provide Ukraine with an unspecified number of HAWK missiles from its own inventory, but that those missiles would first need to be refurbished. That refurbishment will be done using funds from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Once those missiles are refurbished, they will then be paired with HAWK system launchers that have been provided by Spain.
The Avenger air defense systems, which use Stinger missiles, is a capability the U.S. has not previously provided to the Ukrainians.
“These are mobile, short-range air defense systems that can … protect against cruise missiles, helicopters [and] unmanned aerial systems,” she said. “They’re shorter in range, but with some of the additional capabilities that we and Spain and others have provided, like the HAWK missiles. This is something [that] I think fits in well with some of the capabilities that [the Ukrainians] are already using on the battlefield.”
“We discuss with them what they need in this fight. We assess what we can provide and what makes the most sense. This was a request that fulfilled a need … that they wanted,” she said. “I think this is an air defense system that’s going to complement the other air defense systems that not just the U.S. has provided, but other countries as well.”
The total list of equipment in the latest security assistance package also includes:
- Ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System
- 21,000 155 mm artillery rounds
- 500 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds
- 10,000 120 mm mortar rounds
- 100 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, or Humvees
- 400 grenade launchers
- Small arms, optics and more than 20,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition
- Demolition equipment for obstacle clearing
- Cold weather protective gear
“This meeting will be hosted virtually, here at the Pentagon, and will allow for the secretary and ministers of defense from nearly 50 countries to discuss efforts to supply Ukraine with the means to defend its sovereignty from further Russian aggression,” Singh said.
Since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the United States has committed more than $18.6 billion in security assistance.