Pentagon chief confirms increased ATACMS missile aid to Ukraine

Lloyd Austin
Lloyd Austin

The United States will provide Ukraine with as many ATACMS missiles as possible, the Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said on April 30 during a hearing on the 2025 defense budget before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

Asked if there were plans for additional deliveries of long-range ATACMS missiles beyond the recently approved aid package worth more than $60 billion, Austin replied that the United States would provide “as many as we can,” noting that Ukraine has already received a number of ATACMS missiles.

On April 25, The New York Times reported that Senior Pentagon officials had confirmed that Ukraine may utilize the long-range ATACMS missiles provided by the United States to target Russian military assets in Crimea.

White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said on April 30 that Washington had no evidence to suggest that the Russian military had managed to shoot down U.S.-made ATACMS ballistic missiles fired by Ukraine.

Earlier, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that six ATACMS missiles were supposedly shot down but did not specify where. Sergey Aksyonov, Kremlin puppet governor of Crimea, said that the missiles were allegedly shot down over the occupied peninsula.

Ukraine struck a Russian military airfield on Dzhankoi, Crimea early in the morning on April 30. Ukrainian officials are yet to confirm the nature of the strike, presumably made with ballistic or cruise missiles.

ATACMS for Ukraine

The bill on assistance to Ukraine, signed by U.S. President Joe Biden on April 24, mentions that Ukraine should receive long-range ATACMS missiles. The White House was previously afraid to approve the transfer of such missiles to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, arguing that it was an alleged risk of escalation in the confrontation with Russia.

Ukraine received a small number of shorter-range ATACMS missiles with cluster warheads in the fall of 2023. These were MGM-140A missiles (also known as M39 or ATACMS Block I) with a maximum range of 165 km.

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 13, 2024, that the Pentagon was ready to provide Ukraine with longer-range ATACMS ballistic missiles. At the time, U.S. officials said that due to progress in the acquisition of the next-generation Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) system, the Pentagon was open to providing its longer-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine.

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Reuters reported on April 24, citing a U.S. official, that Washington had already secretly sent ATACMS to Ukraine. According to journalists, Ukraine used them for strikes in Crimea last week. This information was later confirmed by the Pentagon.

The New York Times reported on April 25, citing a senior U.S. official, that in March Ukraine secretly received more than 100 ATACMS missiles and a large number of cluster munitions from the United States.

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