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Pentagon to double number of HIMARS rocket systems for Ukraine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) is pictured during the military exercise “Namejs 2022” in Skede, Latvia, on September 26, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The Pentagon says it is doubling the number of deadly HIMARS rocket systems sent to Ukraine, as part of a new military aid package worth $1.1 billion.

The Pentagon made the announcement on Wednesday, saying it is committed to sending another 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine.

HIMARS systems are intended to be a “core component of Ukraine’s fighting force in the future,” a senior US defense official told reporters, adding that this new tranche will take a “few years” to build and deliver.

The recent arms package will take between six months and two years to deliver and require defense contractors to restart or intensify manufacturing, the official said.

The United States has already delivered 16 of the systems, capable of hitting targets with precision of a "recognized and proven range" of up to 300 kilometers, according to its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

The most recent package of orders for US military suppliers also includes 150 armored vehicles, 150 tactical vehicles for towing weapons, trucks and trailers, according to a Defense Department statement.

The military package "represents a multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine's Armed Forces" as they continue to fight Russian army, the Pentagon said.

The new package took the total US military aid to Ukraine to $16.2 billion, since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military campaign in the country.

Separately, the Pentagon said Wednesday that Washington intends to increase production of “ground-based long range fires, air defense systems, air-to-ground munitions, and other capabilities” needed to sustain Ukraine’s military for the long haul.

Russia has constantly warned the US and its Western allies against sending weapon to Ukraine, which it says prolongs the war in the country.

Putin also warned that the Russian forces will expand the list of targets it will attack in Ukraine if the West countries to provided Kiev with long-range weapons.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, however, said the commitment to keep supplying weapons shows "we will not be deterred from supporting Ukraine.”

Earlier this month, Russia warned that Washington would cross a “red line," and become “a party to the conflict" if it supplied Ukraine with longer-range missiles,

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