Heavy artillery weapons will be supplied to Ukraine as part of Australia’s latest contribution to its defence of sovereign territory.
The Commonwealth government has announced Australia would gift six M777 155mm lightweight towed howitzers and howitzer ammunition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces as part of a $26.7 million package aimed at supporting the country’s resistance to Russian aggression.
The donation has been made in response to a request from the United States and the Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia.
The BAE Systems-built M777 howitzers, which were initially developed for the US Marine Corps and the US Army, are billed as “highly portable” multidomain platforms that can be readily moved and redeployed without encountering the IED risks faced by self-propelled systems.
The heavy artillery weapons can provide direct support to combat troops through both offensive and defensive fires with conventional and precision-guided projectiles.
The 4100-kilogram M777 howitzers, which can also employ illuminating and smoke projectiles, have a rate of fire of two rounds per minute (sustained) or five rounds per minute (rapid), and an effective range of 24 kilometres for conventional rounds or 30km for improved rounds.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the supplies are en route to Ukraine but has not disclosed delivery arrangements, in line with guidance from Ukrainian officials and other international partners.
This latest commitment takes Australia’s total military contribution to over $225 million.
This has included the delivery of 20 Thales-built Bushmasters, including two ambulance variants requested by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his remote address to a joint sitting of federal Parliament on 31 March.
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The Commonwealth government has also provided $65 million in humanitarian assistance and approximately 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to support Ukraine’s energy needs.
“The Australian government will continue to identify opportunities for further military assistance where it is able to provide a required capability to the Ukraine Armed Forces expeditiously,” Prime Minister Morrison said in a statement released this morning.
“The Australian government reiterates our strongest support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the people of Ukraine.
“Australia stands with the people of Ukraine, and again calls on Russia to cease its unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media
Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.