Last night the Biden Administration outlined the 700M USD HIMARS delivery to Ukraine. This system, long sought after by the Zelenksy government, gives Ukrainian ground forces long range precision fires capability, unrivaled by any weapons platform in the Ukrainian arsenal. This system was personally requested b y President Zelensky, along with the M777 howitzer, which in his opinion will give the Ukrainians the ability to go on the offensive against Russian Ground Forces in order to seize lost territory in the East and South.
However, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov decried the move this morning and told press that ” a third country could become involved in Ukraine conflict sue to supplies of rocket systems”, possibly referring to the United States and the decision to supply HIMARS.
This Russian response prompted U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to announce that the Ukrainian military has given the United States assurances that this weapons system will only be used against targets in Ukraine, not over the border in Russia. However, as we have seen in Kharkiv Oblast in the last week, Ukrainian troops have been shelling Russian positions inside of Russia.
U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Kahl announced that Ukraine does not need systems that can range past the HIMARS for the defense of their country, but that HIMARS gives Ukrainian troops increased ability to hit Russian decision making centers and enabling combat support units without exposing their firing batteries, unlike shorter range M777 batteries.
What Is HIMARS?
The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a light multiple rocket launcher developed in the late 1990s for the United States Army, but also used by the U.S. Marine Corps, mounted on a standard Army M1140 truck frame. It carries six 227 mm M26, M30/M31 series rockets or one MGM-140 ATACMS missile. The MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is a surface-to-surface missile manufactured by the U.S. defense company Lockheed Martin. It has a range of up to 190 miles and carries a plethora of payloads such as the M74 anti-personnel/anti-materiel (APAM) submunitions, 13 Brilliant Anti-Tank munitions, or the 500lbs unitary High Explosive warhead depending on the variant, presenting a versatile and modular weapons package, tailorable to specific firing missions.
Each fully loaded TEL costs approximately 5M US, weighs 35,000lbs, and is crewed by 3 operators. It can reach a speed of 85 km/hr and has a set up time of less than 15 minutes for a strike. The Precision Strike Missile, currently only fielded by the United States off of the HIMARS, extends the range out to nearly 300 miles. HIMARS has been used extensively in Operations Inherent resolve, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, where it conducted hundreds of strikes, killing hundreds of Taliban and ISIS fighters.
Other nations that operate HIMARS are Singapore, UAE, Jordan, Romania, Finland, Turkey, South Korea, Greece with prospective operators being Poland, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Qatar, and Ukraine to named a few.