Exclusive-U.S. aims to arm Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles to fight Russian blockade

Ukraine has made no secret it needs extra superior U.S. capabilities past its present stock of artillery, Javelin and Stinger missiles, and different arms. Kyiv’s record, for instance, consists of missiles that might push the Russian navy away from its Black Sea ports, permitting the restart of shipments of grain and different agricultural merchandise worldwide.

Current and former U.S. officers and congressional sources have cited roadblocks to sending longer vary, extra highly effective weapons to Ukraine that embrace prolonged coaching necessities, difficulties sustaining tools, or considerations U.S. weaponry may very well be captured by Russian forces, along with the worry of escalation.

But three U.S. officers and two congressional sources stated two forms of highly effective anti-ship missiles, the Harpoon made by Boeing and the Naval Strike Missile made by Kongsberg and Raytheon Technologies had been in energetic consideration for both direct cargo to Ukraine, or by a switch from a European ally that has the missiles.

In April, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed to Portugal to supply the Ukrainian army with Harpoons, which have a variety of as much as virtually 300 km.

But there are a number of points retaining Ukraine from receiving the missiles. For one, there’s restricted availability of platforms to launch Harpoons from shore — a technically difficult resolution in response to a number of officers — as it’s principally a sea-based missile.

Two U.S. officers stated the United States was engaged on potential options that included pulling a launcher off of a U.S. ship. Both missiles price about $1.5 million per spherical, in response to consultants and trade executives.

About 20 Russian Navy vessels, together with submarines, are within the Black Sea operational zone, the British protection ministry has stated.

Bryan Clark, a naval skilled on the Hudson Institute, stated 12 to 24 anti-ship missiles just like the Harpoon with ranges over 100 km could be sufficient to threaten Russian ships and will persuade Moscow to raise the blockade. “If Putin persists, Ukraine could take out the largest Russian ships, since they have nowhere to hide in the Black Sea,” Clark stated.  

Russia has already suffered losses at sea, notably the sinking of the cruiser Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet.


A handful of nations could be keen to ship Harpoons to Ukraine, the U.S. officers and the congressional sources stated. But nobody needs to be the primary or solely nation to take action, fearing reprisals from Russia if a ship is sunk with a Harpoon from their stockpile, the third U.S official stated.

That U.S. official stated one nation is contemplating being the primary to produce the missile to Ukraine. Once that “well stocked” nation commits to sending Harpoons, others may observe, the official stated.

The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) might be launched from the Ukrainian coast and has a variety of 250 km. It additionally takes lower than 14 days coaching to function.

The sources stated NSMs had been seen as much less logistically tough than Harpoons, as a result of NATO allies might mortgage cell floor launchers which can be found, and warheads from Norway.

The first two U.S. officers and the congressional sources stated the United States was attempting to work out a method for Ukraine to acquire NSM and launchers from European allies.

The congressional sources stated another choice could be for Norway to donate NSMs to Ukraine, an concept supported by Norwegian members of parliament The Norwegian Ministry of Defense declined to touch upon what extra contributions of arms and protection tools it could take into account providing to Ukraine.

All weapons requests which have U.S. content material akin to Harpoons and NSMs must be accredited by the U.S. State Department, which takes steering from the White House.

Another weapon excessive on Ukraine’s buying record are Multiple Rocket Launch Systems (MLRS) such because the M270 made by Lockheed Martin which might strike a goal 70 or extra kilometers away, a three-fold enhance over a lot of their present howitzer rounds.

In latest weeks, the Biden administration determined as a substitute to ship M777 towed howitzers which may very well be deployed quicker and shipped in bigger portions, the 2 U.S. officers stated.

The two U.S. officers stated the M270 or related system just like the M142 HIMARS could be thought of for cargo to Ukraine as soon as Congress handed a $40 billion supplemental funding invoice that may authorize a further $11 billion value of Presidential Drawdown Authority. That lets the president authorize the switch of extra weapons from U.S. shares with out congressional approval in response to an emergency.

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill in London and Victoria Klesty in Oslo; Editing by Chris Sanders and Daniel Wallis)

By Mike Stone

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