US officials are preparing to unveil a new arms package worth $1.3 billion for Ukraine. The package, which includes cutting-edge weaponry, is set to be announced sometime this week, according to two US officials cited by Reuters.
The centerpiece of the arms package is the highly anticipated VAMPIRE rocket launcher system, developed by US arms contractor L3Harris. The VAMPIRE system, known for its versatility, can be mounted on various vehicles or installed in a fixed position. It comprises a targeting sensor and a launch pod equipped with four laser-guided rockets, enabling it to engage both air and ground targets.
While the specific variant of the VAMPIRE system to be provided to Ukraine remains undisclosed, officials have confirmed that it will be accompanied by a range of ammunition, radar systems, and other counter drone equipment.
In addition to the VAMPIRE system, the upcoming arms package will also feature two types of loitering munitions, namely the Phoenix Ghost and the Switchblade. These explosive-equipped drones are designed to orbit the battlefield, scouring for potential targets. It should be noted that Ukraine has previously received these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with approximately 600 Phoenix Ghosts delivered in a $95 million arms shipment last year.
The VAMPIRE system's announcement for Ukraine came last August, with L3Harris subsequently confirming the reception of a $40 million contract from the Pentagon. The contract entails delivering four VAMPIRE systems by mid-2023, followed by an additional ten systems by year's end.
The $1.3 billion arms package will be funded through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) program. Under this initiative, weapons are purchased directly from the industry rather than relying on existing US stockpiles. President Joe Biden has been actively involved in authorizing military aid to Ukraine, with over $41.3 billion in direct arms transfers since the onset of the conflict with Russia. An additional $10 billion has been allocated under the USAI program, underscoring the US commitment to bolster Ukraine's defense capabilities.