“Ukraine is fighting for its life,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a press conference at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, announcing the recent arms transfer at a meeting of several countries supporting the Ukrainian war effort. It is fighting for its sovereign territory, its democracy and its freedom. But the risks reach far beyond the front lines. They affect all of us.”
Colin Cale, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for policy, first admitted in August that Ukrainian forces had been using HARMs for weeks and “to great effect.”
Despite this, the Pentagon initially avoided identifying the missiles by name, with a senior defense official saying the Biden administration wanted to be careful about describing weapons that could provide Ukraine with a “significant, disproportionate and unexpected advantage.” That changed once US officials saw how well the missiles’ integration with Ukrainian planes, which led to additional transfers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under rules set by the Defense Department.
War monitors had identified the missiles and their remnants in photographs recorded on the battlefield. On August 30, the Ukrainian Air Force also released a video of what appeared to be a HARM missile being fired from one of its MiG-29 fighter jets.
The United States has used HARM missiles since the 1980s, and deployed them to track radar locations in Iraq and Yugoslavia, according to images released by the Pentagon. It was launched by American pilots from F-16 and F/A-18 fighters.
The missile has an antenna in its nose that looks for radar emissions, according to Air Force Fact Sheet. Each rocket is approximately 14 feet long and 800 pounds.
The administration’s decision to provide Ukraine with additional HARM missiles follows months of internal deliberation about whether the United States should supply Ukraine with more combat aircraft.
In March, Poland stunned the United States Offers to give Ukraine its old warplanes If the administration pledges to supply Poland with more advanced F-16s to replace it. Biden officials said Poland is free to show its planes to Ukraine, but it doesn’t make sense for the United States to participate in a three-nation agreement.
In April, the Pentagon revealed that the United States and other countries had sought aircraft parts to assist the Ukrainian Air Force, helping it put 20 additional planes in the air.
In July, the US Air Force’s top officer, General Charles Q. Brown Jr., said the US and its allies were debating whether it made sense. Reinforcement of the Ukrainian Air Force with aircraft from the West. He raised the possibility of sending F-16s, the French Rafale, the Swedish Gripen or another aircraft.
Some US lawmakers have also suggested that the United States send aircraft from its aging fleet of A-10s, attack aircraft that have been prominent in protecting ground forces in past conflicts but are considered vulnerable to newer aircraft and air defenses. Ukrainian officials have indicated that they are more interested in multirole aircraft, such as the F-15, F-16 or F/A-18.
Since the Russian invasion, US officials said, the United States has provided more than $14 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. Austin said Thursday that the meeting in Germany highlighted a shift as allies discuss more about how to support Ukraine “in the long term.”
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