WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The U.S. is considering supplying Ukraine with highly advanced Patriot missile systems.
- The smart bomb kits would be a game-changer for Ukraine in its defense against Russia.
- It could take months, however, before Ukrainian troops are fully trained to operate such advanced systems.
The U.S. government is reportedly preparing to send Patriot missile systems and “smart bomb kits” to Ukraine to help bolster its air defense against attacks from Russia. Senior officials said that such advanced equipment can accurately target Russian military positions.
The smart bomb kits, which can be bolted to a variety of weapons, incorporate global positioning devices for precision to create Pentagon’s so-called Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). This can be used on 2,000-pound bombs, fighter jets, and bomber aircraft.
It is still not clear whether the kits will be used on aircraft or ground-based weapons, or if President Joe Biden and his top advisers have approved such a transfer to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Air Force has primarily been using Soviet-era MiG jets. The Pentagon has previously preferred upgrading such equipment instead of providing newer aircraft since it would require a different, more complicated training.
The U.S. has already provided Ukraine with other advanced weaponry, such as air-launched high-speed, antiradiation missiles (HARMs) to enhance Ukraine’s airstrike ability. These weapons, unlike the GPS-guided JDAM, follow radiation emitted by Russian units and camps.
Ukraine has also used another U.S.-made precision system, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), to disrupt Russian supply lines and inflict significant casualties.
JDAMs would be a significant upgrade to Ukraine’s air defense.
Russia has expressed outrage over Western support for Ukraine, repeatedly making threats of nuclear weapon deployment. It is this threat of nuclear war or a broader war with NATO that has caused governments to move cautiously.
The U.S. has recently been contemplating sending a Patriot missile system to Ukraine, senior U.S. officials told The Washington Post on Tuesday. The president has yet to approve the move, but they believe he will do so.
The Patriot missile system is the U.S. military’s most sophisticated air defense weapon, and has been what Ukrainian leaders have been pleading for. The Patriot, which relies on radars and long-range missiles to intercept incoming threats, could be a game-changer for their air defense. Still, it could take months for Ukrainian forces to complete training on how to operate it.
Russia has been relentlessly attacking Ukraine’s power grids, causing more than half of the population to lose power amid the approaching winter.
The U.S. has since pledged about $20 billion in aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
On Monday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the administration remains focused on “blunting any Russian effort” and will soon announce new arms transfers.
Source: The Washington Post