The U.S. Department of Defense is sending an additional security assistance package worth $325 million to Ukraine. This package includes dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) cluster munitions, HIMARS ammunition, air defense systems, and missiles.
The Pentagon stated in its official release that this package aims to enhance Ukraine's air defenses in the face of relentless aerial attacks from Russia. It includes DPICM munitions, anti-tank weapons, and other equipment to address Ukraine's critical needs and help counter Russia's ongoing aggression.
DPICM munitions evolved from the earlier Improved Conventional Munition (ICM) series of cluster munitions. They encompass shells for 105mm, 155mm, and 203mm howitzers, as well as 227mm artillery rockets compatible with the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers.
Cluster munitions are explosive devices designed to disperse numerous smaller submunitions or bomblets over a wide area upon deployment, typically targeting enemy forces, vehicles, or equipment. They can be launched from aircraft, artillery, or ground-based rockets.
For Ukrainian forces, there are several potential use cases for DPICM-loaded munitions. Ukraine already operates M142 HIMARS and variants, as well as derivatives of the M270, along with NATO-standard 155mm and 105mm howitzers capable of firing various DPICM types. Additionally, there is evidence of U.S.-made 203mm high-explosive artillery shells in Ukraine, used as ammunition for the country's Soviet-era 2S7 Pion howitzers.
Cluster munitions are controversial due to their wide impact and the risk of unexploded submunitions remaining on the battlefield after conflict, endangering civilians and humanitarian personnel.
The "dual-purpose" aspect of DPICM submunitions, referred to as "grenades" by the U.S. military, lies in their effectiveness against both armored and softer targets like unarmored vehicles and troops.
The package announced on Thursday encompasses a range of capabilities, including AIM-9M missiles for air defense, additional HIMARS ammunition, Avenger air defense systems, .50 caliber machine guns for countering Unmanned Aerial Systems, 155mm artillery rounds (including DPICM), 105mm artillery rounds, Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles, Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems, over 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition, 59 light tactical vehicles, demolitions munitions for obstacle clearing, and spare parts, maintenance, and other field equipment.