US to send another $1.3 billion military aid to Ukraine: Report

Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment (VAMPIRE). [Photo:]

US officials are set to announce another $1.3 billion arms package for Ukraine, including multiple types of suicide drones and the newly developed VAMPIRE rocket launcher system, according to Reuters.

The latest military assistance will be unveiled sometime this week, the outlet reported on Tuesday, citing two US officials. Kiev will receive ammunition, radar and other counter-drone systems in addition to the VAMPIRE – or Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment.

Produced by US arms contractor L3Harris, the VAMPIRE can be mounted on most vehicles with a cargo bed, including civilian pickup trucks, or installed in a fixed position. The weapon consists of a targeting sensor and a launch pod equipped with four 70mm laser-guided rockets, and can be used by a single operator against both air and ground targets.

While L3Harris says the system is “configurable with different sensors and weapons packages,” it remains unclear which variant will be provided to Kiev.

The upcoming weapons package will also include two types of loitering munitions – drones equipped with explosives which orbit the battlefield in search of a target – the Phoenix Ghost and the Switchblade. Both UAVs have been sent to Ukraine in the past, with nearly 600 Phoenix Ghosts supplied in a $95 million arms shipment last year.

The VAMPIRE was initially announced for Kiev last August, with L3Harris later confirming it had received a $40 million Pentagon contract to deliver four systems by mid-2023 and 10 more by the end of the year. The company will install the kits on vehicles which will then be sent on to Ukraine.

The $1.3 billion in military aid will come from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) program, under which the White House has purchased weapons from industry rather than drawing on US stockpiles. Since the conflict with Russia erupted last year, President Joe Biden has authorized $41.3 billion in direct arms transfers to Kiev, and more than $10 billion under the USAI.

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