Defense Business Brief: It’s gonna take time to get US arms to Ukraine; Army goes shopping; Air Force gets security helos; and more.


The U.S. has now pledged to send Ukraine more than $13 billion in weapons and aid since Russia invaded back in February. The Pentagon this week released a lengthy list of arms that it has already sent or is in the pipeline.

One important thing to note is that some of the weapons on that list don’t exist yet and still have to be manufactured, meaning it will take a good amount of time before these systems make it to the battlefield. Late last week, a U.S. senior defense official noted it would take “two to three months” before sophisticated missile defenses are ready to be shipped to Ukraine. That’s because Raytheon Technologies needs to build the eight National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, that the U.S. is sending Kyiv.

The Pentagon still hasn’t awarded a contract for Switchblade kamikaze drones, Defense News reports. And Phoenix Ghost drones that the U.S. first pledged in April aren’t expected to arrive until “later this month,” the official said.

A $775 million arms package announced last week “contains indicators of trade-offs because the United States is facing inventory shortages,” Mark Cancian, a senior advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ International Security Program, wrote Friday. The $3 billion arms package announced on Wednesday “will sustain the Ukrainian military over the long term but take months or even years to implement fully.”

U.S.- and German-supplied HIMARS long-range artillery have been hailed as a “game changer” that is helping Ukraine beat back Russian forces. With Russia planning to increase the size of its military, the question becomes: what is the next game-changer the U.S. or its allies can provide?

Among the new weapons to be transferred to Ukraine: a counter-drone system called VAMPIRE—an acronym for Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment. Pictures on L3Harris Technologies’ website show the rockets mounted in the back of a Toyota Tundra pickup truck. Since VAMPIRE is “vehicle-agnostic” it can presumably be installed in the bed of any pickup.

The U.S. Army awarded General Dynamics a $1.1 billion contract for 250 Abrams tanks for the Polish army. “The state-of-the-art M1A2 SEPv3 configuration features technological advancements in communications, fire control and lethality, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency, plus upgraded armor,” General Dynamics Land Systems said in a statement. “Additionally, the SEPv3 Abrams is designed to seamlessly accept future upgrades.” The U.S. Army is already training Polish soldiers on 28 Abrams tanks that were sent to Poland in July.

Meanwhile, the Army awarded BAE Systems a $278 million contract for its Beowulf tracked personnel carrier. “Beowulf is an unarmored, tracked, and highly versatile vehicle for carrying personnel and a variety of payloads in either of its two compartments,” BAE said. “Beowulf can traverse snow, ice, rock, sand, mud, and swamp conditions, and can operate in steep mountain environments. Its amphibious feature also allows it to swim in flooded areas or coastal waters.” The deal is part of the Army’s Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle program and also includes spare parts and contractor logistics support, BAE said.

The Army this week signed a two-year cooperative research and development agreement with HawkEye 360 for the company to “develop and demonstrate new commercial overhead RF-sensing capabilities that could provide relevant tactical support for the warfighter.” More about the agreement here.

One more Army deal: The service has chosen AeroVironment for Increment 1 of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, or FTUAS, program. The $8 million contract “encompasses the purchase, testing and delivery of one JUMP 20 medium unmanned aircraft system to a selected Army Brigade Combat Team and associated services, training and support,” contractor AeroVironment said in a statement. The JUMP 20 “meets an immediate operational need from units for a replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow” drones, the Army said.

Boeing and Leonardo have delivered the first four MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters to the Air Force. The Air Force will now test the helicopter, a militarized version of the AW-139. The MH-139 will replace Huey helicopters used by security teams that guard intercontinental ballistic missile fields. The Air Force also plans to use some of the 80 new MH-139s for VIP transport missions in the Washington, D.C., region.

From Defense One

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