Following the US’s decision to send its High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine, the United Kingdom is also stepping up to the plate and sending its M270 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Ukraine. This comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly pleaded to the world for heavier offensive weapons amidst heavy Russian shelling in the east.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced the decision last June 6. According to them, the M270 can strike targets up to 50 miles away with pinpoint accuracy, which gives Ukraine an advantage on the field as Russia is known to use unguided munitions amidst reports of them having a low supply of precision guided-munitions.
“The UK stands with Ukraine in this fight and is taking a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country from unprovoked invasion. If the international community continues its support, I believe Ukraine can win,” Wallace said.
“As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities,” he continued.
The UK has notably worked with one of its oldest allies, the United States, on sending these weapon systems to Ukraine. SOFREP previously reported that the US had been assessing whether it should give the wheeled M142 HIMARS or the M270 self-propelled multiple rocket launcher. With the US notably sending the four HIMARS to Ukraine as part of its new $700 million military assistance package, the UK will send the M270 as well, providing another closely cooperated assistance to Kyiv.
It’s not like the US did not know the British were going to send the M270; this was likely discussed behind closed doors. The United Kingdom asked the US to sign off on the sending of the M270 MLRS as it is US-made, and this would need the approval of the US to transfer due to export regulations.
It’s important to note that the two systems are very similar, just that the HIMARS is a wheeled version of the M270 and has a farther range depending on what missile or rocket it is equipped with. Mobility is the name of the game in Ukraine, so it is best that they are equipped with systems that can move quickly to avoid being targeted by Russian artillery and air strikes. The Russians have armed drones as well that can damage these weapon systems, so the Ukrainians must be vigilant enough to spot and destroy them before they can do any damage.
The MLRS is fairly mobile, but with tracks, it does move slower. While its tracks give it increased mobility in rough terrain it comes with the trade-off of taking longer to salvo all its missiles and taking longer to reload. This means it is more vulnerable to counter-battery fire from Russia. The HIMARS can move some 50 miles per hour, allowing it to get in and out of places quicker. The MLRS, however, can launch 12 rockets in one go, with the HIMARS only firing six at a time.
This donation is the latest in the trickle of heavy weapons being sent by the US and NATO countries to garner headlines and perhaps to also gauge Russian reaction. Three or four rocket artillery systems are not going to swing the tide of battle in Ukraine’s favor at all but they are good for getting press coverage. The US is currently leading the support for Ukraine, eclipsing the entirety of Europe with over $5.3 billion worth of military aid and support sent to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.
SOFREP previously reported that the British have recently sent $1.6 billion (£1.3 billion) in military aid and support for Ukraine, doubling its previous donation to Ukraine. During this time, it also slapped a fresh package of sanctions against Russian and Belarusian imports to their country, which affected $2.10 billion worth of goods, most crucially platinum and palladium, which are used to make cellphone and computer chips.
Before this, the UK sent Ukraine some Stormer High-Velocity Missile (HVM) launchers, Starstreak anti-aircraft rockets, Brimstone missiles, and some Mastiff armored vehicles to Ukraine. Altogether, this cost the British Government some $945 million or £750 million.
Notably, they have also sent some 5,000 next-generation light anti-tank weapons (NLAWs) that have since been revered weapons of the Ukrainian Armed Forces together with the US-made Javelins. These NLAWs have particularly been seen to be integrated into Ukrainian e-bikes for their forces to use against Russian tanks, enabling them to get in and out of firing positions in a very quick manner.
The Russians do have the upper hand in the sheer number of heavy weaponry they have, that is, in terms of artillery and launchers. However, they have been using a “blunt force” approach amidst the rumors of them running out of precision-guided munitions and throwing bodies at Ukrainian positions and taking heavy casualties. So what’s that approach? It’s to bomb a specific area without really aiming at anything and destroy as many buildings and military equipment as possible. Notably, it has done this in Mariupol, where the city is all but bombed to the ground.
However, it is a conscious choice to use these unguided bombs as a military tactic to make the civilian population in Ukraine suffer, possibly to demoralize its military. If that was the tactic, then it is severely failing as the Ukrainian Armed Forces seem more determined to fight after they shelled Ukrainian civilians.
Putin has notably been annoyed with the western-supplied HIMARS and MLRS as it said it would be hitting “targets that have not yet been hit,” threatening Ukraine’s western allies.
“The longer the range of the systems that are delivered, the further we will move the Nazis back from the line from which threats to the Russian Federation may come,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.