The US is poised to supply Ukraine with ATACMS missiles, a report said Friday — potentially giving it a powerful new weapon against Russia.
The development was reported by ABC News, which cited two unnamed US officials. Ukrainian officials have long argued that the missiles would be a crucial part of its efforts to stop Russia’s invasion.
ATACMS — a shortening of Army Tactical Missile System — has been one of Ukraine’s most pressing requests, because its long range would open up Russian targets too distant to easily attack.
The ATACMS is a long-range guided missile with a range of around 300 kilometers, or 190 miles, per its manufacturer Lockheed Martin. The US has been using it since 1991.
ATACMS can be fired from HIMARS launchers, a US-made artillery system which is attached to a truck.
Ukraine already has HIMARS and has been using them for about a year — but with shorter-range rounds that can reach 50 miles. A HIMARS launcher can fire six of the shorter-range rockets in a single salvo, or one ATACMS.
The mobility from being attached to a truck means ATACMS could be fired with “shoot and scoot” tactics, where a round is launched and then the weapon moves on before the enemy can fire back.
ATACMS have a warhead known as the WDU18, which produces a blast equivalent to 500 lbs of TNT.
It is both deadly and precise. The “ATACMS’ pinpoint accuracy helps minimize collateral damage,” Jim Gribschaw, a director at Lockheed Martin said of the missile.
ATACMS strikes were used extensively by the US in the Gulf War and its later invasion of Iraq.
Retired US general Ben Hodges previously told Insider that the ATACMS would allow Ukraine to reach vulnerable targets behind the front lines, like command posts housing senior officers, or ammunition dumps.
Ukraine has assured backers like the US that it would not use donated weapons for attacks on Russian soil, and it has been using its own drones and missiles for that instead.
As the war continued the US has steadily provided Ukraine with strong equipment, and has already dropped its objections to sending HIMARS, advanced Abrams tanks, cluster munitions, and F-16 fighter jets.
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