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Washington authorises an additional USD800 million military package for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden authorised a USD800 million military aid package for Ukraine on 16 March that includes a host of capabilities from air-defence systems to drones for the European country.

“We're going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,” Biden said.

The White House later provided additional details about this package and said it includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 2,000 Javelin systems, 1,000 light anti-armour weapons, 6,000 AT4 anti-armour systems, 100 “tactical” unmanned aerial systems, 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, and 400 shotguns. It also includes 25,000 sets of body armour, 25,000 helmets, and more than 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition, and grenade launcher and mortar rounds.

Politico reported that these 100 “tactical” drones are AeroVironment's Switchblade weapon but did not specify if this delivery will be the Switchblade 300 (the smaller backpackable tube-launched loitering missile system) or the larger Switchblade 600. Janes did not independently confirm this report, and during a 16 March call with reporters, a senior US defence official only said that these unmanned weapons are “designed to deliver a punch”.

The White House unveiled this latest military aid package hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the US Congress during a televised event. He pressed for the US and other countries to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukrainian airspace – a move the US and NATO have declined to do over fears it would draw them into a war with Russian military forces.

“If [the no-fly zone] is too much to ask, we offer an alternative; you know what kind of defence systems we need, S-300 and other similar systems … and aircraft,” Zelenskyy said through a translator.

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