Exclusive: U.S. considers HAWK air defense equipment for Ukraine

WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) – The United States is considering sending older HAWK air defense equipment from storage to Ukraine to help it defend against Russian drone and missile attacks, two U.S. officials told Reuters.

The HAWK interceptor missiles would be an upgrade to the Stinger missile systems — a smaller, shorter-range air defense system — that the United States has already deployed to deter Russian aggression.

The Biden administration would use the Presidential Withdrawal Authority (PDA) to transfer the HAWK equipment, which is based on Vietnam-era technology but has been upgraded several times. The PDA allows the United States to transfer defense items and services from stockpiles quickly without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

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Reuters was unable to determine how many HAWK systems and missiles the United States has available to transfer. The White House declined to comment.

The HAWK system is the predecessor to the PATRIOT missile defense system made by Raytheon Technologies ( RTX.N ) which remains off the table for Ukraine, U.S. officials told Reuters.

US President Joe Biden pledged to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy that Washington will provide Ukraine with advanced air systems following a devastating missile barrage by Russia earlier this month. Read more

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Spain intends to send four HAWK launchers. Read more

The United States is likely to send interceptor missiles for the HAWK system to Ukraine first because it was unclear whether enough American launchers were in good repair, a US official told Reuters. US systems have been in storage for decades.

A PDA is being considered for later this week, US officials have said. A US official said it would likely be about half the size of recent security aid packages, which have been around $700 million.

It was not immediately clear whether HAWK interceptor missiles would be included, but US officials have previously warned that the size and composition of military aid packages could change rapidly.

Since Russia’s February 24 invasion of neighboring Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” the United States has sent about $17.6 billion in security aid to Kiev.

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Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington with additional reporting by Gerry Doyle in Singapore Editing by Shri Navaratnam

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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