The United States has sent about 20 ATACMS surface-to-surface tactical ballistic missiles to Ukraine, the New York Times reported, citing two officials familiar with the matter.
The officials said that the delivery of the missiles had been carried out in secrecy, out of concern that they could be attacked by Russia as they were shipped into the country—and, in addition, Ukraine wanted to try to catch the Russians off guard.
While the range of the missiles provided, 165 kilometres, falls short off the 300-kilometre mark of the non-cluster type of ATACMS, officials told the NYT it was sufficient to reach almost all of the main bases that Russia has used for air support and for supplying their troops in Ukraine.
One of the conditions put on the Ukrainians is that the ATACMS “may not be used to attack inside Russian territory”, one official told the newspaper.
ATACMS missiles are launched from the M142 HIMARS, M270 MLRS, and their modifications.
For more than a year since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the White House rejected Ukraine’s requests for ATACMS, worrying that this would lead to an escalation from Russia and could affect US defence capabilities.
The United States confirmed on Tuesday it had provided some ATACMS missiles to Ukraine, and Kyiv hinted it had already used the new capabilities to strike two airfields in Russian-held Ukrainian cities, dealing significant damage to Russian aircraft.