U.S. readies $2 billion-plus Ukraine aid package with longer-range weapons, officials say

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) – The United States is preparing more than $2 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine, which is expected to include longer-range missiles and other munitions and weapons for the first time, two US officials said. Officials with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The weapons aid is expected to be announced later this week, 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 part of the package, which is expected to total $1.725 billion, would come from a fund called the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows President Joe Biden’s administration to buy weapons from the industry rather than from existing US arms stocks.

The USAI funds would be used to purchase a new weapon, the Boeing Co (BA.N) Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), which has a range of 150 km. The United States has rejected Ukraine’s demands for the ATACMS missile with a range of 297 km.

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The greater range of the GLSDB glide bomb could allow Ukraine to hit targets that were out of range and help it continue its counterattacks by disrupting Russia further behind its lines.

Reuters first reported Boeing’s proposal to use GLSDB for Ukraine in November. At the time, it was expected that GLSDB could be in Ukraine in the spring.

GLSDB is jointly manufactured by SAAB AB (SAABb.ST) and Boeing. It combines the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket engine, both of which are common in US inventories.

GLSDB is GPS guided, can overcome some electronic interference, is usable in all weather conditions, and can be used against armored vehicles, according to the SAAB website. The GBU-39 – which would act as the GLSDB’s warhead – has small, folding wings that allow it to glide for more than 100 km when dropped from an aircraft, and targets as small as 3 feet ( 1 meter) to hit.

The USAI funds would also be used to pay for other HAWK air defense components, counter-drone systems, counter-artillery and air surveillance radars, communications equipment, PUMA drones and spare parts for major systems such as the Patriot and Bradley, one of the officials said.

There was also a significant amount of medical equipment to equip three field hospitals, which was donated by another ally, the official added.

The White House declined to comment.

In addition to the USAI funds, more than $400 million worth of aid should come from Presidential Drawdown Authority funds, allowing the President to profit from current US stocks in an emergency.

This assistance should include mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), guided multiple-launch rocket systems (GMLRS) and ammunition.

The US has sent about $27.2 billion worth of security aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Edited by Leslie Adler, Jonathan Oatis and Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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