Support: Creative Solutions To Ukrainian Needs

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November 20, 2022: Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February of this year, foreign nations, mainly NATO members, have delivered or pledged over $30 billion worth of assistance, 90 percent of it from the United States. Most of this is weapons and munitions Ukraine needed initially to halt the Russian invasion and, over the last three months, to keep a Ukrainian offensive going. In addition, NATO nations in general have supplied far more in support for Ukrainian refugees and for keeping Ukrainian infrastructure and governments operational.

The Ukrainians have proved to be very resourceful in using whatever weapons they receive, and by now donors have learned that quickly delivering something the Ukrainians requested is far more useful than delivering something possibly better months later. NATO nations have adapted. For example, the United States and Netherlands are sharing the cost of refurbishing 90 Czech T-72B tanks as soon as possible. In this case it will start receiving these refurbed T-72s by the end of 2022. The Ukrainians have found that the main thing Cold War surplus T-72 tanks need is improved armor protection and an upgraded fire-control system. Both items are available and relatively easy to install on these surplus T-72s. The Ukrainians used, and built T-72s for decades before becoming independent in 1991. They can use upgraded T-72s immediately.

Ukrainians still want American M1s but even though the U.S. has thousands of older models in reserve and ready to ship, it would take time to train Ukrainian troops to operate the quite different M1 systems (compared to the T-72) and training maintainers to keep the M1s operational. Some armored vehicles are easier to absorb into military operations. Such is the case with the 250 M1117 ASVs Armored Security Vehicles) being sent to Ukraine. The ASV was, in effect, one of the first MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) to be used in Iraq over a decade ago. The ASV was never considered a proper MRAP, but export customers found it very useful. Originally developed in the 1990s for use by MPs (Military Police) in combat zones, only a few were bought initially. It was found that for Balkan peacekeeping, existing armored vehicles were adequate, and that in the narrow streets of Balkan towns, the ASV was too wide to be very maneuverable. Then came Iraq in 2003, and suddenly, the ASV was very popular. The army got lots more because military police like these vehicles a lot. The MPs originally wanted 2,000 ASVs, but before Iraq, were told they would be lucky to get a hundred. Now the MPs get all they want. American forces eventually received over 1,600 with half a dozen export customers receiving even more.

The ASV is a 15-ton 4x4 armored car that is built to handle the kind of combat damage encountered in most rear-area situations. The ASVs are, unlike armored hummers, built from the ground up as an armored truck. ASVs are six meters (20 feet) long and 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) wide, making them a bit larger than hummers. The ASV is heavy enough to survive most roadside bombs and keep going. The ASV is bullet and RPG proof. The turret is the same one used on the U.S. Marine Corps LAV. When the marines went shopping for armored trucks, however, they passed on the ASV. This is believed to be mainly because most armored trucks have more room inside. The ASV carries a crew of three but can accommodate five personnel.

Ukraine is also receiving some HAWK air defense systems. Hawk is a 1950s design that has been improved over the years. Since the 1960s over 40,000 Hawk missiles have been produced and bought by the nearly 30 countries that used (or still use) Hawk. Hawk fires a 590 kg (1,200 pound) missile carried on three missile launchers. The missile has a range of 50 kilometers. While Hawk has been upgraded since it entered service in 1959, some countries have gone beyond that and the U.S. only stopped using it in 2002. Since the Cold War ended in 1991, a lot of Hawk equipment has been retired. Hawk was cutting edge in the 1970s, that means the tech needed to keep Hawk batteries (each with six launchers, each having three missiles) operational today is easier to get or make locally. Hawk missiles have a max range of 40 or 50 kilometers and a max altitude of 15,000 meters (46,500 feet). The search radar (with a max range of 100 kilometers) guides missiles part of the way before the missiles' own guidance system takes over for the final approach. While HAWK cannot take down ballistic missiles it is effective against everything else, including cruise missiles and helicopters.

 


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