The Army is poised to send Ukraine some of its long-range ATACMS missiles armed with cluster munitions once President Joe Biden approves the transfer, according to the service’s top weapons buyer, Bloomberg reports.
The service "has been postured for this eventuality for a while", Army Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Doug Bush said in an interview. "We're ready to go fast."
US lawmakers have been calling for months for Biden to send ATACMS, or the Army Tactical Missile System, to Ukraine, and people familiar with the matter said last month that the president finally relented, telling Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his visit to Washington last month that he was willing to do so.
The ATACMS can be fired from the same launchers Ukraine already uses to fire GPS-guided missiles in batches of as many as six at a time. The difference is only one ATACMS is fired in a volley from the same launcher. The modifications needed to convert the launcher are "not that much, some cables, some software – it's not dramatic," Bush said.
"We're ready when and if the president decides to do this," he said.
Bush declined to answer what percentage of the Army's cluster-munition missiles might be sent to Ukraine, noting "certainly it's a portion of it" but "I can’t say how much".
The Army is on track for initial deliveries soon of the first version of a longer-range ATACMS-replacement called the Precision Strike Missile.