US adds ‘Kamikaze drones’ as more weapons arrive in Ukraine

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will provide Ukraine with additional high-tech defensive weapons that can be easily moved and require little training to use against Russian tanks, armored vehicles and aircraft, according to a report. American and European officials.

In remarks Wednesday, President Biden announced new military aid of $800 million to Ukraine, including 800 additional Stinger air defense missiles, 9,000 anti-tank weapons, and 100 tactical drones and a range of small arms including machine guns and grenade launchers.

The Ukrainians have demonstrated the ability to use British-supplied and American-made anti-tank weapons against Russia’s much larger army. But in one passionate speech before the National Assembly on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine asked for more help as the Russian army increased its siege of major cities.

US and European officials want to send more easy-to-use equipment to small teams and have technology that can bypass Russian defenses or exploit weaknesses – rather than offensive weapons like tanks. and fighters need substantial logistical support. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to describe the details of the arms transfers publicly.

In addition to sending its own equipment, the US is helping coordinate donations from European countries. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III will visit Slovakia and Bulgaria this week to help make that effort possible.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, a senior defense official said that the United States was focused on sending supplies quickly and that the Pentagon would look to replenish its stockpile later. The official said the focus now is on ensuring that Ukrainians receive the items quickly. The Ukrainian military needs defensive weapons that are easy to carry and easy to use to continue to thwart Russia’s advance. US and European military experts say Ukraine will succeed, if it can operate in small groups, attack the assembled Russian forces, then disperse to set up a new ambush later .

As part of the bid, the Biden administration will provide the Switchblade drone, according to people briefed on the plan. Military officials call the weapon carried in the backpack a “kamikaze drone” because it can fly directly at a tank or group of troops, and be destroyed when it hits the target and explodes. .

“They are designed for US Special Operations Command and are exactly the kind of weapon system that can have an immediate impact on the battlefield,” said Mick Mulroy, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Larger, armed drones, like the US-made Predator or Reapers, would be difficult for Ukrainians to fly and would be easier to destroy by Russian warplanes. However, former officials say small, mobile kamikaze drones could be an effective way to destroy Russian armored convoys.

The United States and its allies are trying to increase the delivery of defensive weapons to the Ukrainians and help them communicate more effectively by providing more equipment.

The United States says it has provided some communication equipment – and Ukraine says it wants more, including more tactical radios and jammers to help prevent Russian forces from talking to each other.

Ukraine asked for more MIG fighters but declined that request. American and European officials say the Ukrainian military does not fly all the planes it has.

Ukrainian officials, including Mr. Zelensky in his speech to Parliament, have emphasized their need for other equipment, a tacit admission that the war has entered a new phase.

In addition to air defense systems like the Stinger, Ukraine is asking for portable air defense systems that can attack aircraft flying at higher altitudes, such as bombers that struck a training ground near the Polish border on Sunday. Japan.

Mr. Zelensky asked for the S-300, a Russian-made air defense system, which the United States could ask for from other countries.

Austin will talk to allies in Europe about how they can provide Ukraine with additional air defense equipment, the senior defense official said.

The United States and its allies supplied ammunition for standard NATO weapons and for those used by the former Soviet Union. While Ukraine is modernizing its military, its state defense industry continues to make weapons of Soviet design, such as the Kalashnikov assault rifle. The new US package will include small arms such as rifles, pistols, machine guns and grenade launchers in both standard Eastern and Western sizes.

The US NLAW and British NLAW anti-tank missiles take only a few hours to learn to use and have proven effective in the hands of the Ukrainian military, officials say.

A British diplomat said in an interview on Wednesday, Ukraine was able to destroy a lot of Russian tanks and armored vehicles because it had a good conceptual plan on how to use anti-tank missiles and the Be brave to use them in battle. .

The Ukrainians, the official said, “are fighting an existential threat and they are not giving up. They have a will. ”

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