The US Secretly Modifies HIMARS Sent to Ukraine, What's the Purpose?

The US Secretly Modifies HIMARS Sent to Ukraine, What's the Purpose?
The US Secretly Modifies HIMARS Sent to Ukraine

Washington - The HIMARS rocket launchers that Ukraine received from Washington have been “silently modified” so that they cannot engage long-range missiles, even if Kiev obtained them from elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported this on Monday (5/12/2022), citing unnamed US officials.

A total of 20 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers have been delivered to Ukraine since June, along with several batches of GMLRS guided missiles and vehicles. The GMLRS has a range of nearly 80 kilometers. Several activists have since called for Ukraine to also receive the ATACMS rocket, with a range of more than 300 kilometers.

The US has refused, so far. "Even if the White House changes its mind, or Kiev succeeds in obtaining ATACMS, or similar long-range missiles, from elsewhere, they will not work on the HIMARS currently in the field," the WSJ report said. "Modifications made to the system before it was shipped to Ukraine involved both hardware and software," said an unnamed official who spoke to the outlet.

Ukraine's military declined to comment. So did the Pentagon, quibbling, "Operational security considerations." According to the WSJ, “The modifications reflect concerns among administration officials that their Ukrainian partners may stop keeping their promises not to invade Russian territory with US-supplied weapons, as well as President Joe Biden's administration's desire to reduce the risk of a wider war with Russia.”

Russia has repeatedly warned Washington that providing heavy weapons to Ukraine risks crossing Russia's "red line" and directly involving the US and NATO in the conflict. The US and its allies insist they are not parties to the hostilities, while continuing to arm Kiev.

Back in June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had received "assurances" from Kiev that HIMARS would not be used "against targets on Russian soil" and claimed there was a "strong bond of trust between Ukraine and the US, as well as with our allies and partners." .” However, in September, Blinken had clarified that the US considers Crimea or four other parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, and the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, as Ukrainian territory, and as such, legitimate targets for Pentagon-supplied weapons.

Monday's disclosure of modifications to the HIMARS launcher also contradicted statements by Washington's envoy in Kiev, Bridget Brink, who said in June that decisions about the range of the system would be "left to the Ukrainian side."

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