US weapons on way to Ukraine within hours, pledges Joe Biden

155mm shells coming off the production line at the Scranton US army ammunition plant in Pennsylvania
155mm shells coming off the production line at the Scranton US army ammunition plant in Pennsylvania - CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Joe Biden has promised to send weapons and ammunition to the front lines in Ukraine within hours in the first delivery since the approval of a $61 billion military aid package for Kyiv.

On Wednesday night, the White House unveiled the first tranche of support, including Himars rockets, air defence missiles and artillery ammunition, after President Biden signed the aid package into law.

It said it would “surge munitions, weapons, and equipment forward to support Ukraine’s ability to defend its frontlines, protect its cities, and counter Russia’s continued attacks”.

“I am making sure that the shipments start right away. In the next few hours we are going to begin sending equipment to Ukraine, for air defence munitions, for artillery, for rocket systems and armoured vehicles,” Mr Biden said.

A woman holds a sign saying 'Thank you USA' in Washington DC
Supporters of Ukraine celebrated in Washington DC after the passage of the military aid package, seen as vital in turning the tide of war - KEVIN DIETSCH/GETTY IMAGES

Ukraine has suffered a series of battlefield setbacks in recent months because of shortages of artillery shells and air defence interceptor missiles, partially fuelled by delays to US aid because of a stalemate in the House of Representatives.

Air defence missiles

Washington pledged to support Kyiv’s forces with both Rim-7 and Aim-9m air defence missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft systems to help fight back against Russia’s long-range aerial bombardments.

It also promised an unspecified number of 155mm artillery shells, including some with Dpicm cluster warheads, to support Howitzer units on the frontline.

Ukrainian, US and Nato officials had previously warned that Kyiv’s troops have all been forced to make life-or-death decisions on when to target advancing Russians because of “shell hunger”.

Analysts have claimed Russian firepower outnumbers Ukraine five to one, with that number growing in areas of the battlefield.

Kyiv has 15 different types of 155mm howitzers that have been donated by its Western allies.

The guns have been working overtime in a war that has largely been dominated by artillery fire.

This has resulted in shortages of the 155mm shells and the barrels, which eventually succumb to usage, amongst Ukraine’s artillery units.

Of the US donations, Matthew Savill, the military sciences director of the defence and security think tank Rusi, said: “It’s unlikely this will create immediate parity with the Russian volume of fire, but it will help close the gap.”

He added: “The Pentagon has already said that some items readied for donation but awaiting approval have been positioned so as to minimise delivery time, almost certainly including 155mm shells.”

Mr Savill suggested the US military support was unlikely to be enough to help Kyiv regain the initiative on the battlefield, but would stabilise the situation and allow it to rebuild.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden speaks to reporters on Wednesday after signing the bill providing military aid for Ukraine - RON SACHS/POOL VIA CNP/INSTAR IMAGES

“The main point is that this funding can probably only help stabilise the Ukrainian position for this year and begin preparations for operations in 2025,” he said.

“The boost to morale and more ammunition to strengthen their defences are necessary pre-conditions for the hard work to begin reconstituting Ukrainian combat forces and – critically – collective training to build a force that stands a chance of making progress next year.

“Predictability of funding through 2024 and into 2025 will help the Ukrainians plan the defence this year, especially if European supplies of ammunition also come through, but further planning and funds will be required for 2025, and we have a US election between now and then.”

Vehicles on their way

Alongside artillery and air-defence munitions, the aid package will include American Bradley and Mrap armoured fighting vehicles.

The vehicles were first delivered to Kyiv ahead of its summer counter-offensive, but they have since been used by Ukrainian forces in skirmishes against advancing Russian troops and tanks.

A promise of Himars rockets  will also come as a boost to help Ukraine’s efforts to degrade Russian logistics, such as fuel and ammunition depots, deep behind enemy lines.

Meanwhile, Javelin and other types of pledged anti-tank weapons will assist Ukraine in blunting a series of Russian pushes across the front lines.


In a further boost to Ukraine, the White House’s announcement lists unspecified “airfield support equipment” that could be in preparation for the arrival of F-16 fighter jets in the country.

But there was no mention of deliveries of the American-made Patriot air-defence batteries or their missiles.

America has not set out whether it will donate more missiles, but part of the military aid is expected to be used to convince European allies to hand over their Pac-2 missiles to speed up delivery.

Some $7.3 billion is allocated to cover the costs of US operations in Europe, while another $13 billion is earmarked to replenish US stockpiles.

Ukraine is calling for up to seven Patriot batteries to help it protect its major cities. In recent weeks, Kyiv’s European allies – Germany aside – have failed to make any significant pledges towards the goal, leaving the US to meet its needs.