U.S. Accelerating HIMARS Production to Help Ukraine: Pentagon Official

The U.S. is accelerating production of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, in order to help Ukraine, a Pentagon official has said.

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition William LaPlante made the comments after visiting Lockheed Martin facilities in Camden, Arkansas that produce HIMARS and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS), according to a news release from the Department of Defense (DoD).

U.S.-supplied HIMARS have played a crucial role as Ukrainian forces continue to fight off Russia's invasion. Ukraine is "effectively employing" the lightweight mobile launchers and precision-strike munitions produced in the facilities, the DoD release noted on Friday.

"As we continue providing security assistance to Ukraine, we are working with industry to accelerate production of critical weapons and systems," LaPlante said.

"This includes providing funding to buy more equipment, expand production lines, and support additional hiring and workforce development."

LaPlante added that U.S. officials "will continue to closely consult with Ukraine on capability needs–and as President Biden has said, our goal is straightforward: The United States wants to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression."

Lockheed Martin tweeted that a team showed LaPlante and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Doug Bush the facility "where we take pride in delivering products that enable mission success." Newsweek has contacted the company for further comment.

The visit came after President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he is sending almost $3 billion in new military aid to Ukraine as Russia's war on the country passed the six-month mark.

That package of equipment and ammunition will include an unspecified number of anti-drone systems called Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment, or VAMPIRE, Newsweek previously reported.

In a statement, Biden said the package is being provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds contracts to purchase weapons and equipment.

"The United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue the fight to defend their sovereignty," Biden said.

"This will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and radars to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term."

U.S. M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket
The U.S. is accelerating production of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, in order to help Ukraine, a Pentagon official said. Pictured, a U.S. M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) fires salvoes during the second annual "African Lion" military exercise in the Tan-Tan region in southwestern Morocco on June 30, 2022. Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images

At a press conference on Wednesday, Defense Under Secretary Colin Kahl said the U.S. will not provide Ukraine with long-range missiles.

Kahl said the U.S.-supplied Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) remain the best form of attack, rather than Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) munitions capable of hitting targets at a distance of more than 280 kilometers.

"We have provided them with hundreds and hundreds of these precision guided systems, and the Ukrainians have been using them to extraordinary effect on the battlefield," Kahl said. "It's our assessment that the most relevant Munitions for the current fight are the GMLRS."