Ukraine to get more laser-guided munitions to kill drones

A new tranche of U.S. military aid includes $300 million for Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding.
Ukrainian servicemen of Ukrainian Air Defence unit, 241st separate brigade of the Territorial Defence Forces take part in a training in the Kyiv region on October 28, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A new U.S. security assistance package for Ukraine, announced Friday by the Pentagon, includes funding for additional weapons to take down Russian unmanned aerial systems.

The equipment is part of a $425 million tranche of military aid, which includes $125 million worth of equipment from Defense Department stocks, plus $300 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds. The USAI funding, which is used to procure systems from defense contractors, will go toward additional laser-guided munitions to counter drones and “strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses over the long term,” according to a release.

In April, the Department of Defense disclosed that it would provide 10 mobile counter-UAS laser-guided rocket systems to Ukraine as part of a security assistance package announced at that time.

“These are going to enable — this is also a new item — this will enable Ukraine to fire precision rockets from mobile positions. And they will use the APKWS, Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System … to counter the drone threat. And the APKWS is something that was previously provided” to Ukraine, a senior DOD official said during a background briefing for reporters.


In March, BAE Systems announced that the Pentagon’s Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) had successfully tested the company’s APKWS laser-guidance kits.

“The testing against Class-2 UAS paves the way for fielding of the precision-guided rockets to partner nations around the globe,” the company said.

“APKWS transforms unguided rockets into smart munitions for precision strikes on soft and lightly armored targets. A newly developed proximity fuze for the standard M151 warhead allows the laser-guidance kits to target Class 2 and Class 3 drones, which typically weigh less than 55 pounds. The fuze retains the legacy point denotation capability for maximum flexibility of the weapon in the field. APKWS now enables rockets to engage and destroy drones at a fraction of the cost of existing C-UAS systems with unprecedented precision,” according to BAE.

The U.S. has provided a slew of counter-drone technologies and other military equipment to Ukraine since Russia’s large-scale invasion last year.

The security assistance package announced Friday also includes the following capabilities that will be drawn from DOD stocks:

  • Additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS)
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds
  • Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles
  • Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems
  • More than 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades
  • Demolitions munitions for obstacle clearing
  • M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions
  • 12 trucks to transport heavy equipment
  • Cold weather gear
  • Spare parts, maintenance, and other field equipment
Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) @Jon_Harper_

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