U.S. Bolsters Ukrainian Air Defense; Withholds Certain Munitions, Tanks


Credit: Kongsberg

The U.S. will send up to $2.5 billion more in military aid for Ukraine, including more advanced air defense systems and armored vehicles, though the Pentagon has not committed to sending new long-range munitions or main battle tanks..

The newest announcement came hours before Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was scheduled to lead the latest meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. While the new batch includes multiple new systems, it does not include high-profile requests from Ukraine such as the M1 Abrams main battle tank, Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs and long-range MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System. 

The tranche includes additional munitions for the Raytheon-Kongsberg National Advanced Surface to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) and eight more AN/TWQ-1 Avenger air defense systems. It also includes 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers with 20 mine rollers—a first—plus 59 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles with 590 TOW anti-tank missiles and 295,000 rounds of 25mm ammunition.

The Pentagon did not provide the Abrams tank, despite German officials pressing for the U.S. to provide main battle tanks as an opening to approve the donation of Leopard 2 battle tanks by both Germany and other European nations that operate the vehicle. 

Other notable vehicles and weapons destined for Ukraine include 53 Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicles, additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and an undisclosed number of AGM-88 High-speed Anti-radiation missiles.

In a statement, the Pentagon says Russia’s recent attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure show the “devastating impact” on the country. 

“This package provides additional NASAMS munitions and Avenger air defense systems to help Ukraine counter a range of short and medium range threats to bolster Ukraine’s layered air defense,” the Pentagon says. 

Top U.S. military leaders are expected to outline the new contributions during a public appearance at Ramstein on Jan. 20.

So far, the U.S. has committed $26.7 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.