NO ATACMS – YET
For the Biden administration, the decision to send GLSDB to Ukraine represents a step toward meeting Ukraine’s demand for the 297km range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile, which the administration has so far declined to provide, fearing a further escalation of the conflict.
The glide bombs, while not as powerful, are much cheaper, smaller and easier to deploy than ATACMS, making them well-suited for much of what Ukraine hopes to accomplish: Disrupting Russian operations and creating a tactical advantage.
Still, said Karako, it is possible the Ukrainians could end up receiving an even longer-range weapon in the future.
“Time and again, we’ve seen the administration say that they would go up to a certain point, but not beyond,” he said. “Then, as the situation has deteriorated, they’ve found the necessity to, in fact, go further.”
This was the case with HIMARS, the Patriot missile defence system, and, just this month, Abrams tanks, all initially off-limits to Ukraine before the administration ended up approving shipments.
But for now, the focus will be on how quickly the new glide bombs can arrive in Ukraine, said Zagorodnyuk.
“If they speed it up…this could hugely change the situation on the field of battle.”