The U.S. Defense Department announced an additional security assistance package of up to $800 million aimed at providing key capabilities to support Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations and defend against Russia’s war of aggression. The package includes additional munitions for U.S.-provided Patriot air defense systems and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems as Ukraine continues its push to reclaim territory seized by Russian forces. The package also contains additional artillery systems and ammunition, including dual-purpose improved conventional munitions, or DPICM, which the Pentagon is providing for the first time to Ukraine after extensive consultation with Congress and U.S. allies.
In announcing the latest package, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin H. Kahl said, “The Pentagon is providing the new capability to Ukraine in order to meet the “urgency of the moment” as Ukrainians continue their counteroffensive. This is to make sure that the Ukrainians have the confidence that they have what they need, but frankly also that the Russians know that Ukrainians are going to stay in the game. the U.S. will be able to immediately provide Ukraine with hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery at a critical time in the offensive. This decision will ensure we can sustain our support for Ukraine by bringing us to a point where we are producing sufficient artillery ammunition on a monthly basis across the coalition.
The newly fielded munitions, which will be drawn from Defense Department stocks, are designed to disperse submunitions from the air, allowing Ukraine to target broad swaths of entrenched Russian troops and equipment. In reaching the decision, the Pentagon heavily weighed the potential risk the rounds could pose to the civilian population in areas where the rounds are deployed. The specific rounds that are being fielded have been assessed to have a dud rate, or rate of unexploded submunitions released from each round, of 2.35%. That contrasts to the cluster munitions employed by Russia throughout Ukraine since the start of the war that have dud rates of up to 40%.
A dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) is an artillery or surface-to-surface missile warhead designed to burst into submunitions at an optimum altitude and distance from the desired target for dense area coverage. The submunitions use both shaped charges for the anti-armor role, and fragmentation for the antipersonnel role, hence the nomenclature “dual-purpose”. Some submunitions may be designed for delayed reaction or mobility denial (mines). The air-to-surface variety of this kind of munition is better known as a cluster bomb. Both the Ukrainians and the Russians used cluster munitions during the full-scale war that began in February 2022. A single Dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) cluster artillery shell can do the job of 10 conventional high-explosive fragmentation shells when destroying most typical targets.