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What long-range weapons Ukraine can get in the wake of Ramstein-18 meeting

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says the latest Ramstein Format meeting paid special attention to deep-strike weapon supplies to Ukraine, experts predict missile-bomb hybrids for HIMARS or US cruise/ballistic missiles among the most probable acquisitions.
bbc ukraine can now target military airfields russia storm shadow cruise missiles ukrainian su-24 bomber carrying british-supplied missile screenshot from military's video ukrainian-su-24-carrying-uk-storm-shadow-missile
Ukrainian Su-24 bomber carrying a British-supplied Storm Shadow missile. Screenshot from the military’s video.
What long-range weapons Ukraine can get in the wake of Ramstein-18 meeting

     

Last week, the 18th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group took place via video conference. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirmed that Ukraine will receive new long-range weapons, though the specifics of these weapons were not disclosed. Defense Express, a Ukrainian information and consulting firm, has speculated on the potential types of weapons Ukraine might acquire and their expected arrival times.

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group, also known as the Ramstein group, comprises over 50 countries and provides military aid for Ukraine in response to the ongoing Russian invasion. Since both major Ukraine aid packages by the US and the EU have been delayed, there was public apprehension of diminishing military aid from Ukraine’s allies before the Ramstein-18 meeting.

“A productive meeting. The support continues. There were important statements and commitments. It will continue. This year, we will receive weapons that are not yet available [for us] and will help us to hit the enemy and its logistics hubs,” said Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Illarion Pavliuk following the Ramstein Format meeting, Suspilne reported.

In the wake of the meeting that took place on 23 January, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported on a number of agreements reached with partners. The ministry’s key message was “Stop panicking!” because there were no hints that Ukraine was losing support. On the contrary, they are talking about increasing aid, Defense Express says.

“So, in general, in this situation, it was not even appropriate to discuss scenarios where Ukraine is left without assistance. This is out of the question, we are talking about increasing the volume of the aid package to meet Ukraine’s needs,” the ministry spokesman said, according to Suspilne.

Ukraine’s Western allies are set to ramp up arms production, aiming to achieve a new level of ammunition production capacity by 2024. Additionally, several countries have declared substantial financial aid packages.

The key points of the recent Ramstein meeting were:

  • A focus on increasing Ukraine’s long-range weapons and adapting Western missiles to Soviet-era systems for enhanced effectiveness.
  • Allies’ commitment to solving Ukraine’s missile deficit and providing essential air defense systems. The meeting participants also discussed adapting Western anti-aircraft missiles to Soviet-era launch platforms currently in use by the Ukrainian Defense Forces, as well as enhancing capabilities for increasing the production of ammunition and artillery systems.
  • “Capability coalitions” in various defense sectors, including a new ground-based air defense coalition, were formalized at the 18th “Ramstein” meeting: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized the formation of six specialized coalitions within the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, each dedicated to enhancing specific areas of Ukraine’s military capabilities. These groups focus on reinforcing Ukraine’s air force, ground-based air defenses, artillery, maritime security, demining, and information technology efforts.
  • Discussions on boosting Ukraine’s domestic ammunition production and diversifying artillery supplies were held.
  • Canada announced new military aid and F-16 pilot training for Ukraine, and Germany pledged helicopter transfers.

US Defense Secretary urges Ramstein Group to “dig deep” on Ukraine support

US Defense Secretary Austin noted that the Allies must continue to focus both on Ukraine’s “immediate battlefield needs, and on helping Ukraine to strengthen, modernize, and sustain its defense forces for the long haul.”

 

On Ukrainian TV, military expert Yevhen Dykyi called the 18th Ramstein Format meeting unique in terms of the fact that virtually no results were announced, praising the fact that such meetings are becoming more closed and decisions are being made that only become known after some new weapons are used is a much better practice because the enemy has no opportunity to prepare.

Deep strike weapons

Defense Express experts believe that the recent meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group yielded two significant outcomes: firstly, the meeting paid special attention to providing Ukraine with long-range weapons and, secondly, the meeting focused on support for Ukraine’s air defense.

The air defense issue was raised several times before, and the Allies kept supplying Ukraine with air defense systems and munitions for those, while expanding Ukraine’s long-range capabilities is rather new as supplies of deep-strike weapons to Ukraine are currently pretty much limited to Aglo-British missiles.

“Special attention was paid to deep strike weapons, i.e. systems that allow striking behind the contact line, and there is a full understanding of our partners that we need these weapons. The commitment to work to provide Ukraine with more weapons for such strikes was clearly assumed by the partners, they talked about it, and paid special attention to it,” said Ukraine Defense Ministry spokesman Illarion Pavliuk.

Currently, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are actively using such deep strike weapons as Strom Shadow/SCALP missiles provided by Britain and France, which remain the only weapon of this type available for Ukraine apart from the limited one-time supply of ATACMS missiles by the US.

“As for the new weapons already announced, in the short term, Ukraine is expected to receive high-precision GLSDB missile-bomb hybrids for HIMARS [multiple rocket launchers], which will allow it to attack targets at a range of 150 km,” Defense Express notes.

The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB). Photo: saab.com

The experts note that the German Taurus cruise missiles requested by Ukraine for months are unlikely to be transferred at all, and even if they are, Germany has only a limited number of those. 

According to Defense Express, speculations abound regarding the potential transfer of advanced weaponry from the United States, including the AGM-158 JASSM air-launched cruise missile, the long-range anti-ship LRASM, or the extended-range ER GMLRS rockets for HIMARS, among others.

The primary focus, however, remains on timelines as the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s spokesperson noted that Ukraine will receive many important types of weaponry capable of targeting “the enemy, both on and beyond the front line” next year.

“This means plans to obtain certain types of long-range weapons will be implemented only in 2025. This may be due to the fact that these weapons still need to be produced in sufficient quantities. And for this purpose, it also needs to be contracted, which also takes time,” Defense Express notes.

However, the mention of the next year doesn’t exclude any long-range additions to the Ukrainian Army’s arsenal already this year.

The next meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine’s Defense, ‘Ramstein-19,” will be held in mid-February in Brussels before the Ukraine-NATO Council meeting.

 
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