By James LaPorta | March 2, 2018 at 12:08 PM
March 2 (UPI) — The State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale to Ukraine of Javelin Missiles and Javelin Command Launch Units, the latest in a series of moves to help the country defend itself against Russian aggression.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the potential $47 million sale on Thursday, after notifying Congress of its approval. The State Department had previously discussed a plan for the sale in December, but only now formally approved it.
Offering assistance to Ukraine, as well as pushing back against other Russian moves in eastern Europe, is in line with President Donald Trump‘s National Security Strategy, which was released in December.
“I am so pleased to see our country provide this long-overdue assistance in Ukraine’s fight to push back against growing Russian aggression,” U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in a statement.
The FGM-148 Javelin is a man-portable, shoulder-launched fire-and-forget anti-tank missile expected to help Ukraine “build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements,” DSCA said in a press release.
If approved, the foreign military sale would provide Ukraine with 210 Javelin Missiles and 37 Command Launch Units, with two additional launcher units for spares.
The deal would also provide Ukraine with basic skill trainers from the U.S. government and contractor assistance that would provide other related services such as logistics and program support, DSCA said.
State Department officials in December signaled the United States was preparing a deal with Ukraine for anti-tank weaponry, days after Trump approved the sale of small arms and weapons to the country, including sniper rifles, ammunition and other parts and materials.
The approval to further arm Ukraine to defend itself dates to Russia’s 2014 annexation of the country. While former President Barack Obama signed legislation to send weapons there in 2014, a deal never actually happened. Trump, however, approved the December sale following the unveiling of his National Security Strategy, which notes that Russia is creating “an unstable frontier in Eurasia.”
“Providing lethal aid to Ukraine shows that the United States is serious about protecting the interests of our nation and our allies,” Ernst said.
The missiles and launchers that will be sent to Ukraine will be provided from U.S. Army stocks and units the military already owns, DSCA said.
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin will be the primary contractors on the deal, with work set to occur in Tucson, Ariz., and Orlando, Fla.