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New USD 250 Mn military package for Ukraine focuses on ammunition

On August 29, 2023, the US Department of State made an announcement about a new military package for Ukraine, valued at $250 million. It consists of AIM-9M missiles designed for air defense, munitions for M142 HIMARS, artillery ammunition of both 155mm and 105mm, equipment for clearing mines, anti-armor systems like Javelin and other rockets, over 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition, ambulances, tools for demolishing obstacles, as well as spare parts, services, training, and transportation.
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The new military assistance package for Ukraine includes rockets for M142 HIMARS (Picture source: US DoD)

The AIM-9M 'Sidewinder' is classified as a short-range infrared (IR) air-to-air missile primarily designed for close combat engagements. Its development began in the late 1940s at the US Naval Weapons Center in China Lake, California. The first prototype completed its inaugural flight in 1953, leading to the introduction of the initial operational version, AIM-9B, in 1956. The Sidewinder family advanced through three generations, culminating in AIM-9R, the latest iteration that was still in development during the period covered by the provided information.

During the 1970s, collaborative efforts between the US Navy and Air Force resulted in the creation of third-generation Sidewinder missiles. This new version differed from its predecessors by introducing capabilities for engaging targets from all directions, making AIM-9L Sidewinder effective in various scenarios. The AIM-9L was engineered with a strong emphasis on reliability, ensuring prolonged storage life and extended flight durations without technical complications.

The AIM-9M variant, which entered production in 1982, incorporated multiple improvements over its predecessors. Most notably, it featured an ability to counter infrared countermeasures, enabling it to detect and neutralize decoy flares released by enemy aircraft. Additionally, efforts were made to reduce the missile's visible smoke signature. After learning from operational experiences during the 1991 Gulf War, modifications were made to enhance the AIM-9M's flare rejection mechanisms. The AIM-9S closely resembled the AIM-9M but featured a slightly larger warhead.

Physically, the AIM-9M Sidewinder measured approximately 2.87 meters in length, had a body diameter of 127 mm, and boasted a wingspan of 0.64 meters. It weighed 87 kg and was equipped with a 9.5 kg high-explosive blast fragmentation warhead with an active laser fuze. The missile's infrared seeker enabled engagements from all angles. The missile could be configured in various modes based on the avionics of the carrying aircraft, including boresight mode, uncaged scan mode, and a mode where the missile seeker was synchronized with the aircraft's radar or a helmet-mounted sight. Propelled by solid propellant and guided by an infrared seeker, it had a range of up to 8 kilometers.

Regarding munitions for the HIMARS system, the system is capable of deploying a range of combat rockets and missiles, including MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) and GMLRS (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System) types. The MLRS rockets, with a diameter of 227 mm, come in several variants designed for specific purposes. For instance, the M26 rockets are designed to carry submunitions such as the DPICM M77 and M85, with engagement ranges that vary. The AT2 German M26 variant is specialized for anti-tank applications and is armed with AT2 anti-tank mines.

The GMLRS rockets, an advanced category within the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, combine GPS-guided systems with their Inertial Navigation System to achieve extended engagement ranges. The M30 rockets can carry DPICM M101 submunitions or pre-formed tungsten fragments, providing diverse engagement capabilities. The M31 rockets, equipped with high-explosive unitary warheads, have variants like the M31A1 and M31A2, which incorporate enhanced fuzing technologies and propulsion systems.

The FGM-148 Javelin, introduced in 1996, is a portable anti-tank system that has undergone continuous evolution through ongoing upgrades. Notably, it possesses a fire-and-forget capability due to automatic infrared guidance, allowing operators to seek cover after launching. This is a departure from wire-guided systems that require constant manual guidance. Its high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead is effective in top attacks, targeting less-armored upper surfaces of tanks, and is also proficient in direct assaults against fortifications.

Weighing 22.3 kg in firing-ready mode, the Javelin includes a detachable Command Launch Unit (CLU) weighing 6.4 kg, and a missile within its launch tube weighing 15.9 kg. Designed for one or two operators, it features a caliber of 127 mm, providing various firing ranges. The original CLU covers 2,500 meters, while the Lightweight CLU extends this to 4,000 meters; vehicular deployment achieves up to 4,750 meters. The system incorporates optical sights and thermal imaging for precise targeting.

The missile carries an 8.4 kg tandem-charge High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead that detonates upon contact. While specific blast yield and penetration data are confidential, it effectively engages armor up to 760 mm in thickness. Its propulsion relies on solid-fuel propellant. With a maximum altitude of 150 meters in top attack mode and 60 meters in direct attack mode, the Javelin employs infrared homing guidance from a portable man-portable launcher, underscoring its effectiveness against armored vehicles.


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