US to provide Ukraine with more M777 155mm howitzers and AN/TPQ-36 artillery radars

The United States announced on May 19 that another tranche of presidential drawdown support is headed to Ukraine. The latest package is worth $100 million and mostly includes more of the same items the U.S. has sent to Ukraine in the past. C. Todd Lopez, U.S. Department of Defense, reports. The new U.S. military aid for Ukraine includes M777 155mm towed howitzers and  AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars.
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Ukrainian soldiers fire with M777 155mm towed howitzers donated by the United States, Australia, and Canada.(Picture source Facebook account Valerii Zaluzhny)

Included in the latest package are 18 155 mm howitzers, 18 tactical vehicles to tow those howitzers, three AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars and additional field equipment and spare parts, said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby during an afternoon briefing today at the Pentagon. "That stuff will start to flow very, very soon," he said. "I cannot give you an exact date of when it's all going to show up in Ukraine, but you can imagine having seen us do this in the past that we're not going to sit on our hands. We'll start flowing that stuff immediately." Since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, the U.S. has provided nearly $4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, Kirby said.

Prior to the most current presidential drawdown package, the U.S. provided 90 155 mm howitzers to Ukraine, along with more than 200,000 artillery rounds. The U.S. has also provided over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, over 5,000 Javelin anti-armor systems and more than 700 Switchblade tactical unmanned aerial systems.

The U.S. is not the only nation sending assistance to Ukraine, Kirby said, and the U.S. will continue to work with partner and allied nations to provide the Ukrainians with what is needed to defend their national sovereignty.

Howitzers proving very effective against Russians, DOD Official Says

The 155 mm M777 towed howitzers supplied by the U.S. and other types supplied by ally and partner nations to Ukraine are having a big impact on the battlefield, a senior Defense Department official said at a Pentagon press briefing on May 16. "You're already seeing the Ukrainians being willing to go on the counteroffensive in the Donbas. They are taking back some towns that the Russians have taken in the past," the official said. David Vergun, Department of Defense, reports.

For example, the Ukrainians are pushing Russian forces to the east and to the north of Kharkiv, Ukraine, the official said. "We do believe that the howitzers ... are having an impact, particularly in Kharkiv. Now is that the only reason? I don't think we would go that far to say that, but we do believe that the systems they're getting — not just the U.S. systems but the systems from other countries — are absolutely helping them regain some momentum and to take back some territory," the official said.

Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III had a conversation with Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. Reznikov told Austin that 74 of the 90 M777 artillery cannons that the U.S. supplied Ukraine are forward in the fight, providing long-range, indirect fire capability, the official said, noting that the tubes are being used not only in the Kharkiv area but elsewhere in the Donbas.

Currently, Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed about 80% of his total battalion tactical groups to Ukraine. "And there's no question that of that 80%, he has lost quite a bit," the official said.

Putin still has a total of 140-plus BTG available to him, with 10 operational in Ukraine. The ones not in Ukraine do not appear to be near the periphery of Ukraine, the official noted.

On the Ukrainian side, they still have a majority of their combat power available to them, the official said. "That is not to say that losses are not being sustained on both sides. They are, both in terms of forces but also in terms of equipment and weapon systems. It's a real gunfight in the Donbas, literally, with artillery being exchanged every single day and the Russians to fly airstrikes, the official said.

About six of those airstrikes hit a military training facility in Lviv, Ukraine, with minimal damage. It seems likely that those missiles could have been fired from submarines in the Black Sea, the official said.