U.S. planning to give Ukraine smart-bomb kits


The Biden administration is planning to send Ukraine advanced electronic equipment that converts unguided aerial munitions into “smart bombs” that can target Russian military positions with a high degree of accuracy, according to senior U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The kits incorporate global positioning devices for precision and can be bolted onto a variety of weapons, creating what the Pentagon calls a Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. The U.S. military has used the technology on bombs weighing up to 2,000 pounds, usually incorporating it with bomber aircraft and fighter jets.

It was not immediately clear whether President Biden or any of his top national security advisers have approved the proposed JDAMs’ transfer to Ukraine. Those familiar with matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations, did not say whether Ukrainian forces would employ the kits on aircraft or ground-based weapons, or what specific systems in Ukraine’s arsenal would be candidates for such augmentation.

Pentagon eyes major expansion of Ukraine military training

The Ukrainian Air Force relies primarily on aging Soviet-era MiG jets, and the Pentagon has sought ways to upgrade them rather than provide newer Western aircraft that would require its pilots and maintainer units to undertake complicated new training.

The Biden administration has previously equipped Ukraine with other advanced weaponry, including air-launched high-speed, antiradiation missiles, or HARMs, to enhance Ukraine’s ability to carry out airstrikes. But those weapons function differently than the GPS-guided JDAM, instead hunting radiation emitted by Russian units and headquarters.

A delivery of JDAMs would mark another significant step by Washington to help Ukraine repel the invading Russian force, providing a new way to target Russian units and headquarters. Since June, Ukraine has relied heavily on the U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, another precision system, for significant casualties among Russian troops and disruption of supply lines, Ukrainian and U.S. officials have said.

Pentagon preparing to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine

The Kremlin has reacted angrily to the outpouring of Western military aid, making thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine and warning of the potential for a broader spillover war with NATO. For that reason, the Biden administration has sought to move cautiously in approving new capabilities that could be viewed by Russia as escalatory.

On Tuesday, senior U.S. officials told The Washington Post that the Pentagon also was preparing to provide Ukraine with a Patriot missile system, the U.S. military’s most sophisticated air defense weapon. Biden has yet to approve that move either but could do so imminently, officials said.

Ukrainian leaders have pleaded for help bolstering their air defenses as Russia has carried out a relentless assault on the country’s electrical grid, disabling heat for much of the population as the winter cold arrives. Delivery of a Patriot, which relies on radars and long-range missiles to intercept incoming threats, would fulfill one of Ukraine’s biggest and most frequent requests of Washington.

To date, the United States has committed about $20 billion in security aid to Ukraine since the invasion began Feb. 24.

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said Monday that the administration is focused on “blunting any Russian effort” to gain an advantage in the war, and predicted the United States would announce new arms transfers soon.

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