Ukraine will receive new capabilities to fend off ongoing Russian drone attacks in the latest U.S. aid package.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Defense Department unveiled a new tranche of military aid destined for Ukraine, worth around $2.6 billion. A senior defense official said the U.S. wanted “to help Ukraine advance and hold its positions in what we expect will be a Ukrainian counteroffensive.”
It included 10 mobile c-UAS laser-guided rocket systems, which will likely be used by Ukrainian forces to counter Russian drone attacks.
The c-UAS laser-guided rocket systems are being sent to combat unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. They are a “new item” to be provided to Ukraine by the U.S., the senior defense official said, and are “important capabilities for air defense and to counter Russian unmanned aerial systems.”
They will “enable Ukraine to fire precision rockets from mobile positions,” the official added, using previously-provided Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS).
Also appearing in the latest round of military aid are nine counter-UAS 30mm gun trucks, and, as with the c-UAS laser-guided rocket systems, it is the first time the U.S. is furnishing Kyiv with these systems, the official noted.
Ukraine’s military will receive these gun trucks to “be able to detect and intercept drones, including the Iranian-build Shaheds,” the official told the media.
This type of precision-guided rocket can be effective against both air and ground targets, becoming “especially valuable when facing wave after wave of drones,” military and technology expert David Hambling told Newsweek.
The laser-guided rockets have been in use for years, Hambling said, but against ground targets, and have been recently adapted for use as anti-aircraft weapons.
Where a more expensive Patriot missile may be “overwhelmed by sheer numbers,” Hambling said, laser-guided rockets “can be supplied in much greater quantities.”
The c-UAS precision-guided rockets “will form part of a layered defense,” he argued. However, although useful against small drones, “it remains to be seen whether they are effective against the miniature kamikaze FPV [first person view] racing drones now used by both sides.”
The U.S. has previously provided a counter-unmanned aerial system known as the VAMPIRE to Ukraine, which “uses small missiles, essentially, to shoot UAVs out of the sky,” Colin Kahl, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, told the media in August.
Drones of various types have become a significant feature of the war in Ukraine, utilized by both Kyiv’s and Moscow’s forces.
Combat drones “are the new super-weapon here,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, previously told Newsweek.
“This war is a war of drones,” Gerashchenko continued.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s General Staff said Russia had launched 17 Shahed drone strikes through the night, 14 of which were intercepted.
The Iranian-made Shahed-131 and larger Shahed-136 drones are a common sight across Ukraine. Tehran initially denied supplying Russia with the drones, before later saying it had sent a “small number of drones months before the Ukraine war.”
Newsweek has reached out to the Ukraine Defense Ministry for comment via email.
“It included 10 mobile c-UAS laser-guided rocket systems, which will likely be used by Ukrainian forces to counter Russian drone attacks.”
I hope they work as promised. This would give Ukraine an important edge in this important arms category.
They must work. Drones will feature in every future conflict so it’s very much in America’s interest to get this working effectively now.
That’s very true. This war has shown the importance of drones, if we like it or not.