Missile-launching trucks developed by North Texas-based defense contractor Lockheed Martin have been pivotal in Ukraine’s fight against invading Russia, U.S. and Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the weapons have helped to “speed up the liberation of Ukraine,” while U.S. Army General Mark Hertling called them a “game-changer.”
Four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) were promised to Ukraine under the United States’ latest $270 million military aid package, bringing the total to 16 HIMARS that the U.S. has provided to Ukraine. Disputing claims from Moscow, Serhiy Leshchenko, an advisor to President Zelenskyy’s staff, said that Russia has failed to destroy any of its HIMARS.
The HIMARS system consists of a large rocket launcher platform that sits on top of the bed of a specially designed heavy-duty truck. Up to six rockets at a time can be fired from inside the truck’s control center, striking targets up to 300 kilometers away. According to Lockheed Martin, the HIMARS is the “most technically advanced, affordable and sustainable artillery solution.”
Designed in North Texas and built in Arkansas, the HIMARS systems have helped to eliminate over 100 high-value Russian targets, U.S. military officials stated. The rocket assistance has a “significant impact on what’s going on, on the front lines,” the U.S. Defense Department said.
Reportedly, the U.S.-supplied HIMARS have already crippled around 50 Russian ammunition stockpiles, although Russia claims the missiles had struck nearby homes instead. As is common as the war drags on, Russia and Ukraine have given opposing updates on the status of the HIMARS. Around the same time that Kyiv reported the ammunition depots as being destroyed, Russia claimed to strike and level HIMARS missile storage depots, which Kyiv denied.
Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksiy Reznikov noted that HIMARS systems have been used to take out three bridges and additional infrastructure crucial to Russian military transport. “This cuts their logistical chains and takes away their ability to conduct active fighting and cover our armed forces with heavy shelling,” said Reznikov.
Besides the four additional HIMARS, the $270 million security aid package to Ukraine recently announced by the White House also includes more tactical drones. According to John Kirby, Communications Coordinator for the White House National Security Council, up to 580 drones, along with 36,000 rounds of artillery, have been approved to be sent. “The president has been clear that we’re going to continue to support the government of Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes,” Kirby said.
This latest security aid package brings the total the U.S. has spent on Ukraine security aid to $8.2 billion and is part of the $40 billion in economic and security aid approved by Congress in May.