The next weapons package will reportedly include Patriot missiles and refurbished Hawk launchers FILE PHOTO © AP / Eugene Hoshiko
The Pentagon is set to unveil another $2 billion in military aid for Ukraine, hoping to bolster the country’s air defenses as it launched its much-touted counteroffensive against Russian forces, Bloomberg News reported.
The announcement is likely to come later this week, the outlet said on Thursday, citing unnamed US officials. The arms will be provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which has furnished billions of dollars in American weapons to Kiev since fighting erupted with Moscow last year.
The new aid package will include two types of Patriot missiles: the Patriot Advanced Capability Missile-3 (PAC-3) and the Guidance Enhanced Missile. Produced by Raytheon, the latter munitions are said to provide “improved ability to defeat tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or enemy aircraft in complement to the PAC-3 missile,” according to the US weapons-maker.
Washington will also reportedly send MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missile launchers, an aging system whose first variant entered service in 1960. Officials initially said the platform would be provided last November, but noted they would require refurbishing and repairs using funds from the USAI project.
The latest military assistance comes as Kiev staged several major attacks against Russian forces over the past few days. Officials in Kiev, however, insist that the actual “counteroffensive” operation has yet to come, with the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, Aleksey Danilov, arguing “When we start the counteroffensive, everyone will know about it, they will see it.”
Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said the military was ready to go on the attack, telling the Wall Street Journal that while Kiev would have liked to have more Western arms, “we can’t wait for months.” He previously warned that the country did not have sufficient air defenses to repel Russian strikes, calling for additional Patriot launchers.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned foreign military aid to Kiev, arguing the weapons will only prolong the fighting and do little to deter its objectives. The Kremlin has also stated that it views Ukraine’s Western backers as de facto parties to the conflict, citing the non-stop flow of arms, intelligence support, training and other assistance. (RT)