170822-N-GR361-082 PHILIPPINE SEA (Aug. 22, 2017) A harpoon missile launches from the missile deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) off the coast of Guam. Coronado is on a rotational deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, patrolling the region's littorals and working hull-to-hull with partner navies to provide the U.S. 7th Fleet with the flexible capabilities it needs now and in the future. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples/Released)

The White House today announced another $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including for the first time two Harpoon coastal defence systems that will be mounted on trucks — a capability not currently in US inventory.

In addition to the Harpoon systems, the package includes 18 Howitzers, more ammunition for the HIMARS long-range rocket systems, thousands of secure radios, night vision systems and funding for everything from training to administrative costs, according to a breakdown provided by the Defense Department.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that the rocket systems and artillery, in particular, are the weapons “the Ukrainians need to support their defensive operations in the Donbas” in eastern Ukraine.

“This morning, I spoke with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss Russia’s brutal and ongoing war against Ukraine,” Biden said. “I reaffirmed my commitment that the United States will stand by Ukraine as it defends its democracy and support its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression.”

On top of the $1 billion in security aid, Biden announced some $225 million in “humanitarian assistance” to help Ukrainians get safe drinking water, medical supplies and the like.

The announcement came just hours after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke at the Ukraine Defense Contract Group in Belgium, saying Ukraine is “facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield.”

“We’re working in lockstep to meet Ukraine’s requests for new capabilities — particularly its need for long-range fires, armour and coastal defence,” he said.

The newest capability included in this package is the Harpoon system. The US does not have ground-vehicle-mounted Harpoons in inventory, but after looking at Ukraine’s requirements and getting industry feedback, DoD officials concluded such a setup would work for Ukrainian needs, according to a pair of senior defence officials who talked to reporters at the Pentagon on the background.

The US will provide two launchers, while the actual missiles and vehicles to move them around will be provided by other nations. While the senior defence officials avoided saying what country would be providing the actual missiles, the Ukrainians were previously provided Harpoon missiles by Denmark, a move applauded by the US at the time.

“The provision of Harpoon is not in response to any particular piece of new information. It’s a combination of continued consultation with Ukrainians and coastal defence still being near the top of their urgent requirements list,” one of the officials said.

However, it could take “several” months for those systems to be put on contract, procured, transferred to Ukraine and have Ukrainian forces trained on their use,” the official added. “The truck-mounted Harpoon, in this condition, in this configuration, is new, right? And so that’s why it’s taking a little bit of time to pull the systems together for full operational capability.”

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