A little over a week ago Ukraine's military began showing off it newly acquired long-rage rocket systems from the US by uploading videos of launches against Russian forces.
Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced last month, "HIMARS have arrived to Ukraine. Thank you to my colleague and friend SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools! Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them," in reference to the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
Already, Ukraine's forces and their American backers are touting that they've been able to target and strike Russian command centers with the HIMARS, which are well past the front lines.
The Hill has cited a senior US defense official who said Ukraine is now having "a good deal of success" with the recently deployed HIMARS rockets, particularly in the hotspot of current fighting, the Donbas in the east of the country.
"Because it is such a precise, longer-range system, Ukrainians are able to carefully select targets that will undermine the effort by Russia in a more systematic way, certainly than they would be able to do with the shorter-range artillery systems," the Pentagon official said further.
Six 200-pound rockets slammed into the Russian position, largely destroying it, said Lt. Koval, who commands 2 HIMARS batteries (launchers). The Russian base was one of about 10 high-value positions Lt. Koval says Ukraine has hit in the 2 weeks since taking charge of the systems pic.twitter.com/vEVjsbFJGJ— Rob Lee (@RALee85) July 2, 2022
"What you see is the Ukrainians are actually systematically selecting targets and then accurately hitting them, thus providing this, you know, precise method of degrading Russian capability," the official added. "I see them being able to continue to use this throughout Donbas."
At the moment, only four are reportedly in use on the battlefield, after lately arriving, but four more were pledged starting last month. The somewhat slow rollout of the systems is related to the time-gap of training Ukrainian operators on how to use them effectively.
A Russian field headquarters has been frustratingly beyond the range of Lt. Valentyn Koval’s Soviet-era artillery. That changed with the arrival of HIMARS. “We understand from this assistance that we’re not alone in this fight.” @stephenkalin https://t.co/JsWOHgbpNo— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) July 2, 2022
The HIMARS being provided to the Ukrainians are estimated to be able to hit targets about 40 to 50 miles away, which from the administration's standpoint marks a significant improvement in range, but still makes it unlikely the missiles could be used to strike within Russian territory, which Biden had expressly said he wants to avoid.
The US has said that Ukraine's military leadership has provided "assurances" it won't use the newly provided systems to attack Russian territory, amid persisting fears Washington and Moscow could enter direct conflict.