US provides Ukraine with seized Iranian weapons, approves $138M for missile defense systems

April 10, 2024 by No Comments

The stalled $60 billion military aid package is not stopping the Biden administration from getting weapons and other military assistance to the war-torn country as it battles back against a Russian invasion. On Tuesday, the State Department approved an emergency $138 million in foreign military sales for Ukraine to provide critical repairs and spare parts for Kyiv’s HAWK missile systems, noting Ukraine has an urgent need for maintenance support to keep the missile system running. The HAWK is a medium-range surface-to-air missile system that provides air defense, which is one of Ukraine’s top security needs. “Ukraine has an urgent need to increase its capabilities to defend against Russian missile strikes and the aerial capabilities of Russian forces,” the State Department said in a memo outlining the sale. “Maintaining and sustaining the HAWK Weapon System will enhance Ukraine’s ability to defend its people and protect critical national infrastructure.” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that without support, the U.S. risks “Ukraine matters and the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine will have global implications for our national security as well,” Austin said during a Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday. The MIM-23 HAWK – a name that began life as an acronym for “Homing All the Way Killer” – was first introduced in the 1950s as the U.S. military sought ways to defeat raids by high-flying strategic bombers. It was upgraded over the years to deal with jamming and other countermeasures, and eventually exported to more than a dozen countries, according to the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command. The news came on the same day that the U.S. military announced it had transferred thousands of infantry weapons and more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition to Ukraine. The weapons and ammunition were seized more than a year ago as they were being shipped to Houthi forces in Yemen, in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216. The weaponry, which was transferred to Kyiv on April 4 “constituted enough material to equip” a Ukrainian brigade, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement posted on X. An infantry brigade typically comprises 3,500 to 4,000 troops, but the exact numbers are not known. CENTCOM said the hardware included more than 5,000 AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades and more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition. “These weapons will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s invasion,” the CENTCOM post on X reads. “U.S. CENTCOM is committed to working with our allies and partners to counter the flow of Iranian lethal aid in the region by all lawful means including U.S. and U.N. sanctions and through interdictions.” “Iran’s support for armed groups threatens international and regional security, our forces, diplomatic personnel, and citizens in the region, as well as those of our partners. We will continue to do whatever we can to shed light on and stop Iran’s destabilizing activities.” The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.