Russia has so far failed to destroy any of the rocket launching systems that the US has sent to Ukraine to aid it in the ongoing war, according to General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Milley, who was speaking during a news conference with Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Wednesday, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s army has not taken down any of the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
“To date, those systems have not been eliminated by the Russians, and I knock on wood every time I say something like that,” Milley told reporters. “And they’re [Ukrainians are] being very effective at using them, employing precision weapons against targets.”
The Defense Department has previously stated that the HIMARS systems are having a “significant impact on what’s going on, on the front lines” in Ukraine. On Wednesday, Austin announced during a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group that the US would be sending four additional M142 HIMARS to Ukraine, bringing the total to 16. In addition to the rocket launching systems, Austin said that the Biden administration would also soon be sending more munitions for the HIMARS and “precision-guided artillery ammunition, tactical vehicles and other urgently needed support.”
Last week, Ukraine said that it was able to destroy two Russian ammunition depots in the southern Ukrainian city of Nova Kakhovka using American-made HIMARS. Additionally, Ukraine’s armed forces partially destroyed the vital Antonivka Road Bridge in the southern Kherson region after striking it with HIMARS, the Kyiv Post reported Wednesday.
Austin praised Ukraine’s use of the weapons during the news conference on Wednesday.
“The Ukrainians have made excellent use of HIMARS, and you can see the impact on the battlefield,” he said.
Milley also stressed that Ukrainians have been “effectively employing” the rocket launching systems, “with strikes against Russian command and control nodes, their logistical networks, their field artillery near defense sites and many other targets.”
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, also told Newsweek last week that Russia’s forces have been in “panic mode” since the HIMARS arrived in Ukraine.
Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov, the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, recently told the Russian state-owned news agency TASS that Russia’s military destroyed a launcher and the transport-loading vehicle of a US-made HIMARS.
When the Pentagon was contacted for comment on the TASS report, Newsweek was referred to transcripts of recent Defense Department briefings, but was not immediately able to find an instance in which it addressed the allegedly destroyed US-made HIMARS.
Newsweek also reached out to Russia’s Defense Ministry for comment and confirmation that it has not destroyed any US-supplied HIMARS.