The newest batch of security assistance including Harpoon missile systems headed for Ukraine was announced earlier on 15 June by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, both of whom are in Brussels for the third meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
The aid is given under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds, and includes;
- Two Harpoon coastal defense systems;
- Thousands of secure radios;
- Thousands of Night Vision devices, thermal sights, and other optics;
- Funding for training, maintenance, sustainment, transportation, and administrative costs.
The U.S. will also send land warfare weapons and ammunition such as 155mm howitzers, and more ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS.
Senior defense officials later discussed the announcement in more detail during a background briefing at the Pentagon.
“This new assistance will support Ukraine’s most urgent needs for artillery, as well as near-term priorities for coastal defense, secure communications and optics. The assistance is split between two different authorities: Presidential Drawdown Authority and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI.”
Senior Defence Official
The officials also mentioned that the Harpoon missiles are intended to weaken the Russian blockade in the Black Sea, saying;
“Harpoon is intended for coastal defense. I think we’ve seen the negative impacts that, you know, the Russian blockade of the Black Sea has had, and continued Ukrainian fears about Russia targeting Odesa and other critical ports around the Black Sea. So this is a capability that provides them significantly stronger deterrence.“
The officials underlined during the press meeting that the Harpoon systems will be vehicle-mounted, with the launchers coming from the United States and the missiles provided by allies.
In late May, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced its intention to start talks with Boeing on the production of Harpoon Coastal Defence Cruise Missiles (HCDCM). The anticipated contract provides for the design, production, testing, and delivery of a mobile coastal defense cruise missile capability supporting Building Partner Capacity (BPC).