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What are the Missiles With Cluster Warheads the US Can Send to Ukraine

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MGM-140 ATACMS tactical missiles and M142 HIMARS MLRS / Open source illustrative photo
MGM-140 ATACMS tactical missiles and M142 HIMARS MLRS / Open source illustrative photo

The White House is getting closer to making a decision to finally transfer long-range ballistic missiles to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and, according to the media, in the first place, these may be missiles with cluster warheads

The administration of US President Joseph Biden is "close to approving the shipment of longer-range missiles packed with cluster bombs to Ukraine". The main idea of the transfer is to give Ukraine’s Defense Forces the ability to cause significant damage deeper within Russian-occupied territory.

After a successful example of using cluster 155-mm DPICM projectiles at the disposal of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the White House is now considering the option of transferring to Ukraine either one or two types of missiles with cluster equipment of the GMLRS or ATACMS types. If a decision on these weapons is made quickly, then these missiles can be promptly delivered to Ukraine, but Joseph Biden himself is not in a hurry to make a decision yet, being wary of a possible escalation. This is reported by Reuters.

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What are the Missiles With Cluster Warheads That the US Can Send to Ukraine, Infographic showing the entire arsenal of the M270A1 and M142 HIMARS, Defense Express
Infographic showing the entire arsenal of the M270A1 and M142 HIMARS / Open source image

In turn, Defense Express considers it necessary to detail exactly what types of "missiles with cluster munitions" we are talking about here, and how powerful they are.

In particular, with regard to "GMLRS-type" missiles with cluster equipment, Reuters probably meants M26 unguided rockets, which have a cluster warhead, but the range of which is limited to 45 km.

Previously, there were already signals in the Western media that the USA was considering the option of transferring M26 cluster rockets to Ukraine as a more powerful weapon compared to DPICM 155 mm cluster projectiles.

As for ATACMS missiles with cluster equipment, there can be two options at once.

The first is the basic version of ATACMS Block I, aka M39, MGM-140 or MGM-140A. The firing range is only 165 km, but the mass of the cluster warhead reaches 570 kg with a starting mass of the missile of 1650 kg, the equipment is as many as 950 M74 submunitions, each of which can cover an area of up to 15 square meters. Probable deviation from the target is up to 250 meters, the guidance system is inertial, using a laser gyroscope.

What are the Missiles With Cluster Warheads That the US Can Send to Ukraine, Launch of the MGM-140 ATACMS tactical missile from the M270 system, Defense Express
Launch of the MGM-140 ATACMS tactical missile from the M270 system / Open source illustrative photo

The second option is ATACMS Block IA or M39A1, where the firing range is increased to 290 km, but instead the weight of the warhead is reduced to 150 kg, the equipment is 300 M74 submunitions, the guidance system is combined.

As Defense Express reported, US Came As Close As Possible to the Transfer of ATACMS to Ukraine – Number of Insides From Washington was Increasing. We also wrote, that, according to Ukrainian Air Force Spokesman For Ukraine ATACMS was an Air Defense Weapon.

Read more: Ukraine's Neptun is Not the Only Missile Transformed into LACM But Definitely One of Very Few