“The Biden administration unveiled a new policy for transferring or selling arms to foreign countries that puts more weight on protecting human rights, in theory setting a lower bar for denying sales.
The Conventional Arms Transfer Policy was last updated in 2018 under the Trump administration, and it placed an explicit emphasis on the economic benefits of selling more military equipment overseas.
At issue is whether the U.S. thinks the customer nation will use the weapons on its own population. Under the old standard, the U.S. had to have actual knowledge that a government would use the weapons to harm civilians. Now, if the U.S. determines a country would “more likely than not” harm its population, a sale could be denied, a senior State Department official told reporters.”
“The Biden administration had already tweaked its arms sales policy by refusing to sell Saudi Arabia offensive missiles and bombs after the regime used U.S. weapons to strike civilian targets in its war in Yemen.
Sales of defense weapons to Riyadh continue, however, including air defense and air-to-air missiles.”
“Balloons, it turns out, are already part of that US arsenal, with the Pentagon spending $3.8 billion over the past two years on them, according to Politico. As industry expert George Howell posted on LinkedIn, “High Altitude Balloons are actually a pretty smart thing to invest in, they’re cheap, easy to transport, can be fielded in large numbers and are payload agnostic,” meaning that while they’re most likely to be carrying cameras or radar, in certain situations balloons could field a weapon.”
“The West isn’t really saying “never” on fighter jets for Ukraine — it just wants to focus first on getting Kyiv weapons for a looming offensive.
That’s the sentiment emerging in the wake of U.S. President Joe Biden’s blunt “no” — echoed to various degrees by leaders in Germany and the U.K. — to the question of whether he would be sending Ukraine the fighter jets it is requesting. While officials have publicly remained relatively unequivocal that no jets are forthcoming, private discussions indicate it may actually just be a matter of time.”
“”the military’s ability to respond to balloons and similar craft is constrained by physics and the capabilities of current weapons,” The Washington Post reports, and you can’t really pop a giant balloon with gunfire at 40,000 feet.
“You can fill a balloon full of bullet holes, and it’s going to stay at altitude,” David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and fighter pilot, tells the Post. The air pressure that high up doesn’t allow helium to freely escape through small holes, even if fighter jets flying by at hundreds of miles per hour can riddle the near-stationary balloon with bullets.”
“The goal is to send National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems to Ukraine in the next three to six months, CEO Greg Hayes said in an interview. The U.S. would then backfill those systems with new NASAMS in the Middle East over the next 24 months.
“There are NASAMS deployed across the Middle East, and some of our NATO allies and we [the U.S.] are actually working with a couple of Middle Eastern countries that currently employ NASAMS and trying to direct those back up to Ukraine,” Hayes said.
He noted that shifting systems from the Middle East is faster than building them in the U.S. “Just because it takes 24 months to build, it doesn’t mean it’s going to take 24 months to get in [the] country,” he said.”
It takes two years to build NASAMS because of the lead time required to buy electronic components and rocket motors, Hayes said.”
“Ukraine now has an edge in range and in precision-guided rockets and artillery shells, a class of weapons largely lacking in Russia’s arsenal. Ukrainian soldiers are taking out armored vehicles worth millions of dollars with cheap homemade drones, as well as with more advanced drones and other weapons provided by the United States and allies.
The Russian military remains a formidable force, with cruise missiles, a sizable army and millions of rounds of artillery shells, albeit imprecise ones. It has just completed a mobilization effort that will add 300,000 troops to the battlefield, Russian commanders say, although many of those will be ill-trained and ill-equipped. And President Vladimir Putin has made clear his determination to win the war at almost any cost.
Still, there is no mistaking the shifting fortunes on the southern front.
Ukraine’s growing advantage in artillery, a stark contrast to fighting throughout the country over the summer when Russia pummeled Ukrainian positions with mortar and artillery fire, has allowed slow if costly progress in the south toward the strategic port city of Kherson, the only provincial capital that Russia managed to occupy after invading in February.
The new capabilities were on display in the predawn hours Saturday when Ukrainian drones hit a Russian vessel docked in the Black Sea Fleet’s home port of Sevastopol, deep in the occupied territory of Crimea, once thought an impregnable bastion.
The contrast with the battlefield over the summer could not be starker. In the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, Russia fired roughly 10 artillery rounds for each answering shell from Ukrainian batteries. In Kherson now, Ukrainian commanders say the sides are firing about equal numbers of shells, but Ukraine’s strikes are not only longer range but more precise because of the satellite-guided rockets and artillery rounds provided by the West.”