The Biden administration is expected to send Ukraine a sophisticated new weapon, the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb, as part of a new $2 billion security assistance package to be announced shortly.
The smart bombs can be fired from several rocket launchers, including the U.S.-supplied mobile rocket system known as HIMARS which is already in use on the battlefield in Ukraine. The bombs have a range of almost 95 miles, almost doubling the range of Ukraine’s current longest-range warhead.
The move comes amid growing talks in Kyiv that Russian forces have been assembling in the east ahead of a major attack designed to break the military stalemate there.
“The longer range of the GLSDB glide bomb could allow Ukraine to hit targets that have been out of reach and help it continue pressing its counterattacks by disrupting Russia further behind its lines,” according to Reuters, which was briefed on the deal.
Also included in the aid package will be support equipment for the Patriot air defense system and Javelin anti-tank weapons. At least part of the funding will come from a fund known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows the Pentagon to secure weapons from defense contractors rather than draw down military stocks.
The GSLDB is made by Boeing and the aerospace and defense company Saab AB. While it will help Ukraine strike Russian targets previously out of reach, the deal falls short of Kyiv’s request for the even longer-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) which can hit targets almost 200 miles away.
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The Biden administration is still holding back shipping the ATACMS to Ukraine reportedly over concerns that Kyiv could use them to hit targets inside Russia.
Russian officials have warned that sending longer-range weapons to Ukraine would only prolong the war.
The decision to send the GLSDB to Ukraine comes soon after the Biden administration recently did an about-face on shipping the M1 Abrams main battle tank to Ukraine, agreeing to do so as Germany authorized the shipment of its more numerous Leopard 2 tanks as well.