The United States announced on Tuesday the shipment of advanced missile systems to Ukraine, and this new donation could mean a change of course in the war with Russia. The new weapon is the HIMARS system (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) or MLRS, a mobile unit that can make multiple launches of guided precision missiles.

Both Ukraine and Russia already operate MLRS systems, but Himars have superior range and accuracy.

The rocket system will allow Ukraine to “more precisely hit key targets on the battlefield.” However, it is planned to limit their range to prevent them from being used on targets inside Russia. “We are not going to send Ukraine missile systems that can hit inside Russia,” President Joe Biden said Monday.

It is a modernized version of the M142 Himars system, mounted on an agile wheeled system and lighter than the tracked version of the M270 MLRS developed in the 1970s.

The Himars system will have an average range of 80 kilometers with a pre-charged battery of six 227mm guided missiles (M270s have two), or alternatively a payload of ATACMS tactical missiles, according to US officials.

A small group can operate the Himars and change a fired missile load and assemble a new one in minutes, without the help of other vehicles.

The announcement does not detail how many of these systems will be delivered to Ukraine.

The MLRS will give Ukraine the ability to attack Russian targets behind enemy lines and from positions further away and better protected from Russia’s own long-range weapons.

The GPS-guided missiles fired by the Himars have a range nearly double that of the M777 howitzers, recently delivered to Ukraine. That nearly 50-mile range rids the Himars of enemy artillery, while putting Russian batteries at risk.

This system can also put Russian supplies suffering from logistical deficiencies under threat.

The United States will not provide the ATACMS systems, whose range reaches 300 kilometers.

Some analysts say the Himars could bring about a “turnaround” in the war, at a time when Ukraine appears to be suffering under fierce Russian artillery. But other experts believe that the Himars does not mean a sudden turn in the war.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24, the United States has been very careful not to support kyiv with actions that could provoke Moscow to take the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.

This has included not openly endorsing Ukrainian attacks inside Russia. Several times kyiv has used its own rockets, drones and helicopters to hit short-range targets near Kursk and Belgorod provinces.

If the United States provided the ATACMS missiles for use on the Himars, they could theoretically give them the ability to attack large Russian urban centers and military bases.

The “Ukrainians have given guarantees that they will not use these systems against Russian territory,” a US official said.

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