US considers HAWK air defense equipment for Ukraine - US officials

The United States is considering sending older HAWK air defense equipment from storage to Ukraine to help it defend against Russian drone and cruise missile attacks, two US officials told Reuters.

 US air defense system with components from Israel's Iron Dome. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
US air defense system with components from Israel's Iron Dome.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

The United States is considering sending older HAWK air defense equipment from storage to Ukraine to help it defend against Russian drone and cruise missile attacks, two US 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 sent to blunt Russia's invasion.

The Biden administration would use the Presidential Drawdown 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 articles and services from stocks quickly without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

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 PATRIOT missile defense system made by Raytheon Technologies RTX.N which remains off the table for Ukraine, US officials have told Reuters.

 Visitors take a look at the IRIS-T SLM, a German air defence system by Diehl, displayed at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2022 in Berlin, Germany (credit: REUTERS) Visitors take a look at the IRIS-T SLM, a German air defence system by Diehl, displayed at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2022 in Berlin, Germany (credit: REUTERS)

The US continues to support Ukraine

US President Joe Biden pledged to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that Washington would provide Ukraine with advanced air systems after a devastating missile barrage from Russia earlier this month.

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

The United States would likely initially send interceptor missiles for the HAWK system to Ukraine because it was unclear if enough US launchers were in good repair, one US official told Reuters. The US systems have been in storage for decades.

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

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

Since the February 24 Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation," the United States has sent around $17.6 billion worth of security assistance to Kyiv.