The MLRS and HIMARS rocket launchers are capable of launching missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers. However, the US does not want to supply this type of ammunition to Ukraine because it fears attacks on Russian territory and retaliatory measures against the US as a result.
The US government does not want to deliver missile systems to Ukraine that have a range to Russia. In response to a question from reporters in Washington on Monday, US President Joe Biden said that no missile systems that could hit Russian territory would be sent to Ukraine. The US foreign relations expert had previously said this to the Washington Post.
The television channel CNN reported a few days ago, citing officials, that the US government is considering sending advanced long-range multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine. The US-made MLRS and HIMARS artillery systems could fire projectiles that travel distances in excess of 300 kilometers. Ukraine asked for these types of weapons, it said. However, the US government is hesitant because of fears that Ukraine could use the missile systems for attacks on Russian territory. The question therefore arises as to whether this could lead to a Russian retaliatory measure against the USA.
Both the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) and the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) are multiple rocket launchers. While the MLRS is moved from A to B on a tracked chassis and is also suitable for difficult terrain, the HIMARS is a light rocket launcher on a Lockheed Martin truck frame.
The HIMARS was developed back in 1996 as a lighter but above all cheaper counterpart to the MLRS. The prototype was presented in 1999 and development was completed in 2002. With an unladen weight of 13.5 tons and normal tires, the HIMARS can reach speeds of up to 95 km/h on the road, depending on the production series. It is therefore superior to the MLRS in terms of laying over longer distances. The MLRS only reaches a top speed of 70 km/h. And that only if the 500 hp V8 cylinder CUMMINS diesel is connected to the original three-speed gearbox. The German gearbox only allows a speed of 65 km/h.
The weapon systems installed on the MLRS and the HIMARS are almost identical, which enables both rocket launchers to fire the same ammunition. And they range from missiles with shaped-charge bombs with a range of up to 45 kilometers to multi-purpose warheads that can travel 150 kilometers to GPS-guided tactical missiles with a range of over 300 kilometers. It is the latter weapon systems that the US government does not want to deliver to Ukraine for fear of Russian retaliation.
Prominent Republican Senator Lindsey Graham reacted with sharp criticism to Biden's statement. The government's decision not to send these weapons was a "betrayal of Ukraine and democracy itself," Graham wrote on Twitter. "Apparently the Biden government is once again intimidated by Russian rhetoric."
So far, US arms supplies to Ukraine have focused on Javeline anti-tank missiles, Stinger shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, firearms and ammunition. However, the United States has already begun to deliver M777 howitzers to Ukraine, which have a range of around 25 kilometers.