Ukraine wish-list to US: radar and anti-tank missiles

10th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

President Barack Obama on Monday put off a decision on whether to send arms to Ukraine, saying he will allow time for diplomacy to play out amid a fresh bid for a ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists.

Here are the weapons and other military hardware that Washington may eventually opt to deliver to Ukraine, according to former US diplomats, top military officers and experts.

- Anti-armor missiles -

Advocates of arming Ukraine say light, anti-armor missiles are crucial to enable Ukraine's army to fend off assaults by pro-Russian forces which have been able to move with relative ease in armored vehicles. The "fire and forget" weapons are portable, can be fired from the shoulder and do not require elaborate training.

"The Russians have been shoveling hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment into Ukraine, including tanks and armored personnel carriers. This would nullify the advantage that the so-called separatists and Russian troops have," said John Herbst, former US ambassador to Ukraine.

Washington could opt for the M-72 light anti-tank weapon, which was introduced in the early 1960s and was being phased out before coming back into use in the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The M-72 has a range of about 170-220 meters (at least 550 feet) and costs about $900 each.

The AT4, the main anti-armor portable weapon for US Army soldiers, is a new version that can hit a vehicle at a range of about 300 meters after a flight time of one second. The AT4 costs about $1,480 each.

The more sophisticated Javelin anti-tank missile has a much longer range, about 2,500 meters, and can strike a helicopter at low altitude. But the Javelin is heavier and more expensive, about $246,000 apiece.

- Anti-battery radar -

Ukraine's troops are suffering heavy casualties from artillery and rocket fire. US commanders say Kiev badly needs counter-battery radar to detect incoming shells to protect troops and to shoot back accurately. Washington already has delivered radar that tracks incoming mortar fire.

US allies in Europe, wary of arming Kiev, may be more open to the radar as a "non-lethal" form of aid, experts said.

Washington is also weighing providing armored Humvee vehicles to help Ukrainian troops move with greater speed and security.

- Small drones -

With pro-Russian fighters using drones to guide artillery attacks, the Obama administration is looking at providing small, unarmed "tactical" drone aircraft to help Kiev's army spot their adversaries from a distance.

The light, unmanned aircraft could include the ScanEagle, which is launched by a small catapult, or the Raven, which a soldier simply throws into the air like a toy plane. The ScanEagle is about 1.2 meters long with a three-meter wingspan, while the Raven is smaller, about a meter long with a 1.4-meter wingspan. Both can stay in the air for hours and send back surveillance video.

- Secure radios -

Pro-Russian forces are able to listen in on the radio and phone conversations of Ukrainian troops with deadly effect. The Americans are looking at providing secure communications and counter-jamming equipment to Kiev.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said last week the separatists were able to "intercept our soldiers talking on mobile phones and then steer their fire."

- Intelligence -

The United States could decide to share more intelligence from satellites with Ukraine about the movement of Russian forces on the border and the pro-Russian separatists.

But because Ukraine's military has been penetrated by Russian spy services, the intelligence from Washington would have to be provided "in a way that you're not giving away methods and sources," said James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander and the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

The US also could provide "defensive cyber advice" to help Ukraine deflect relentless "denial of service" and other digital attacks on their logistics and military networks, Stavridis told AFP.

- Ammunition and other supplies -

The United States, along with other NATO allies, is weighing sending ammunition to Ukraine along with other key items such as night-vision goggles to ensure the Ukrainian forces are well-supplied.

"Keeping that logistics pipeline open is crucial," Stavridis said.

© 2015 AFP

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