U.S. readies $2 billion-plus Ukraine aid package with longer-range weapons
WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The United States is readying more than $2 billion worth of military aid for Ukraine that is expected to include longer-range rockets for the first time as well as other munitions and weapons, two U.S. officials briefed on the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
The aid is expected to be announced as soon as this week, the officials said. It is also expected to include support equipment for Patriot air defense systems, precision-guided munitions and Javelin anti-tank weapons, they added.
One of the officials said a portion of the package, expected to be $1.725 billion, would come from a fund known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows President Joe Biden's administration to get weapons from industry rather than from U.S. weapons stocks.
The USAI funds would go toward the purchase of a new weapon, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) made by Boeing Co (BA.N), which have a range of 94 miles (150 km). The United States has rebuffed Ukraine's requests for the 185-mile (297-km) range ATACMS missile.
The longer range of the GLSDB glide bomb could allow Ukraine to hit targets that have been out of reach and help it continue pressing its counterattacks by disrupting Russia further behind its lines.
Reuters first reported on Boeing's proposal to field GLSDB for Ukraine in November. At the time it was expected GLSDB could be in Ukraine by spring.
GLSDB is made jointly by SAAB AB (SAABb.ST) and Boeing. It combines the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket motor, both of which are common in U.S. inventories.
GLSDB is GPS-guided, can defeat some electronic jamming, is usable in all weather conditions, and can be used against armored vehicles, according to SAAB's website. The GBU-39 - which would function as the GLSDB's warhead - has small, folding wings that allow it to glide more than 100km if dropped from an aircraft and hit targets as small as 3 feet (1 meter) in diameter.
The USAI funds would also be used to pay for more components of HAWK air defenses, counter drone systems, counter artillery and air surveillance radars, communications equipment, PUMA drones, and spare parts for major systems like Patriot and Bradley, one of the officials said.
There was also a significant amount of medical equipment - enough to equip three field hospitals being donated by another ally, the official added.
The White House declined to comment. The contents and size of aid packages can shift until they are signed by the president.
In addition to the USAI funds, more than $400 million worth of aid was expected to come from Presidential Drawdown Authority funds, which allows the president to take from current U.S. stocks in an emergency.
That aid was expected to include mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), guided multiple launch rocket systems (GMLRS) and ammunition.
The U.S. has sent approximately $27.2 billion worth of security assistance to Ukraine since Russia's February 2022 invasion. Russia calls the invasion a "special operation".
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