U.S. Lawmakers Ask Secretary Austin To Transfer Avengers Anti-air, C-RAM and F-16 Fighter Jets To Ukraine

In a letter, a bipartisan group of six Senators asks the Secretary of Defence to transfer more medium- and long-range air defense systems to help the Ukrainian military defend Ukrainian cities and military installations from Russian air and missile attacks.

U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Robert Portman (R-Ohio), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, asking them to immediately expedite shipments of military equipment to Ukraine as appropriated by Congress under the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Passed on May 19, the act provided nearly $20 billion for military aid to the Ukrainian military. Equipment recommended for immediate delivery includes medium- and long-range air defense systems, 155 mm howitzers, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), armored personnel carriers, larger and more capable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and Mi-17 helicopters.

C-RAM counter-rocket system

The senators said in a letter that “protecting Ukrainian cities, military infrastructure, and forces in the field from Russian air and missile attack requires ground-based Avengers air defense systems, Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) systems, and Avenger mobile anti-aircraft missile systems. Longer-range air defense systems will allow Ukraine to target Russian aircraft and cruise missiles operating at altitudes that Stingers cannot reach. C-RAM will provide a critical point defense capability against missiles and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) targeting civilian and military critical infrastructure.”

Avengers short-range anti-air system

Also, they added that Avengers will provide Ukrainian forces with mobile, short-range air defense against low-flying aircraft, helicopters, and UAS.

“Our assistance must be decisive, not incremental. We urge you to act expeditiously while coordinating with NATO allies and partners, to get this equipment to the Ukrainian military immediately,” said in the letter.

The Avenger is a surface-to-air missile system often mounted on a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, commonly known as the Humvee. The combined weapon system provides mobile protection against missiles, low-flying aircraft and most recently – unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar System, or C-RAM, was developed based on operational needs identified in 2004 during military operations in Iraq. The C-RAM mission aims to protect people and installations from attack from enemy rockets, artillery, and mortar fire by intercepting and destroying those threats mid-flight. Most often recognized by the visually stunning and menacingly sounding Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS) “gun,” the C-RAM system is several sub-systems working together to identify, track, engage, and destroy incoming rockets, artillery, and mortar threats.

F-16 fighter jets

The bi-partisan senators insist on the need to transfer modern F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to significantly increase its ability to counter deadly missile attacks on civilian cities. They also said in a letter they met in June with a delegation of Ukrainian fighter pilots and air defense officers to hear first-hand what they need to defend Ukrainian cities and military installations from Russian air and missile attacks.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 145 days, has become increasingly bloody. Russian missiles struck the city of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, killing at least 24 people, including three children, in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called “an open act of terrorism”.

The midday attack on a city hundreds of kilometers from front-line fighting and far from invading Russian troops came as European Union officials convened in The Hague to discuss Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine. Russians also hit the shopping center in Kremenchuk, where dozens of dead and they don’t stop the daily shelling of Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and front-line cities.

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