On July 20, an online meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, or Rammstein-4, was held involving Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov. What did the military and politicians deem appropriate to say in the aftermath of the meeting and what weapons will Kyiv receive?
Kyiv will receive more MLRS systems and artillery
Ukraine’s allies decided to focus on heavy weaponry, artillery, MLRS systems, shells, and rockets to deprive Russia of its ability to advance.
It will probably be not only new supplies but maintenance for the 136 existing М777 howitzers: replacement barrels, spare parts, repair, etc.
Among future supplies, we were told about "tactical vehicles", which are artillery tractors and MLRS resupply vehicles with a crane and a trailer.
In addition, more high-precision guided shells are planned to be delivered, which are suitable for counter-battery fire and for striking at the rear.
HIMARS for Kyiv: who gives them
The U.S. and allies are planning to give Kyiv up to 20 M142 HIMARS systems. There’s an interesting aspect, though: those in Europe who can actually give Ukraine the systems have only 18 launchers left, held by the 41st brigade in Romania.
Or, maybe, the recent order of an immense number of 500 launchers by Poland (the U.S. currently has only 420) is not only for Poland.
So far, the aid is coming in batches — four launchers in two weeks. Two hundred people have been trained, which, of course, should not be seen as 66 crews of three people per launcher, since they include platoon commanders and resupply vehicle drivers as well.
The number of trained crews shall always be more than the number of combat-ready systems, as the pace of combat operation shall not be affected by people getting overstrained or sick or leaving for a retraining.
Will there be enough rockets for Ukraine?
The main focus is the number of rockets for Ukraine. And it’s not even because a full pod of six GMLRS rockets costs up to $1 million, to say nothing of hours of satellite time, target indication, training by launching special rounds, and logistics.
The main problem is that 20 launchers need 480 rockets as a movable stock only, which is two pods in each resupply vehicle and trailer.
About four months of intensive work, and whew! One sixth of a year’s production of GMLRS in East Camden, Arkansas, is gone. Consider that the factory had a shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and had problems with its workforce recently, since jobs in the defense sector, where you screw nuts at the assembly line, are not as popular in the U.S. as they were in the USSR.
Europe and Taiwan are looking closer at HIMARS
It should be noted, though, that the problem is being solved, as active modernization of the production facilities is underway, and the staff has been increased from 500 to 900 people.
The local college in the Highland Industrial Park is preparing specialists, and by the beginning of 2024, the U.S. is planning to increase the supply seriously. Right now, assemblers, logistics specialists, and technical engineers are being hired.
Perhaps the idea that Ukraine has exhausted Europe’s stocks significantly, while the prospect of confronting China is getting more real, appears to be a good motivator.
New purchases will also play their part, after everyone concerned had an opportunity to observe the system’s effectiveness not against Saddam’s troops, but against the "world’s second-best army" with trainloads of Pantsir-S1 systems. In addition to Poland, Taiwan, the Baltic countries, Hungary, and Sweden are showing a strong interest in M142 HIMARS.
Why HIMARS launchers are so useful for Ukraine
For Ukraine, HIMARS launchers are useful because we cannot deploy a cumbersome support system in our rear due to the missile threat from Russia.
It’s more practical for us to work on wheels using truck-based systems, which are smaller than our Tochka-U missile launchers, don’t emit radar-detectable radiation, need no external target identification, and can do with just coordinates received from a satellite or UAV.
You can go out at night, when the curfew and masking effectively help avoid enemy intelligence, make a strike, and recharge in a grove using a resupply vehicle.
I’m not sure it’s possible to quickly distinguish from the air between a HIMARS launcher, when folded and covered with a camouflage net, and a supply truck, given that М142 systems don’t enter the area where the enemy’s tactical drones operate.
That’s why there will be more broken bridges of all kinds, burning supply depots near Kherson, and destroyed Russian anti-aircraft systems in Nova Kakhovka.
NASAMS and planes: what else Kyiv gets
HIMARS are not the only weapons Ukraine is awaiting. Given that Reznikov spoke about solutions for the sky and the sea, the transfer of NASAMS is nearly accomplished.
Moreover, there’s progress with those Harpoon launchers and anti-ship missiles that the U.S. and U.K. announced as additional aid in June. However, it’s quite possible that there’s something completely new among the supply plans.
For instance, Charles Brown Jr., chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, referred to supplying Ukraine with planes at the Aspen Security Forum as if it had already happened:
"It’ll be something non-Russian, I can probably tell you that. But I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be."
Like we said earlier, air defense systems have arrived, and more is yet to come. We’re awaiting more news from our allies.