The United States on Thursday approved the possible purchase by the Netherlands of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) worth $670 million.
HIMARS is in high demand because they were given to Ukraine last summer and have been used to hit Russian forces with great accuracy in the months since.
The State Department approved the foreign military sale, which was then published by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) and sent to Congress as the law required.
This begins a review period in Congress in which lawyers could, in theory, hold a vote to block the sale, although that is unlikely to happen given the Netherlands’ status as a key NATO ally. Unless Congress acts, the deal may close and move into the acquisition phase in the coming weeks.
The government in The Hague has requested the purchase of 20 M142 HIMARS launchers, 80 M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile modules, 77 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rocket modules, in addition to a number of support vehicles, radars, and spare parts. The deal, valued at $670 million, includes training and technical support from the US government and contractors.
HIMARS is manufactured by Lockheed Martin and has been in US service since 2010 with the Army and Marine Corps. In addition to Ukraine, several foreign militaries currently have HIMARS, including Jordan, Romania, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.
Australia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Taiwan are among the other countries that have been given permission to buy HIMARS in recent years. Poland wants to buy 18 more HIMARS launchers and 1,500 precision-guided munitions for around $10 billion. It was given the okay last week.
The United States has supplied at least 20 HIMARS to Ukraine since June 2022, with another 18 expected to be delivered in the future. Initially, the Biden administration was reluctant to supply the systems to Ukraine following the February 2022 Russian invasion, in part due to concerns that Russia could use the supply of the advanced artillery platform as a pretext to escalate the war.
Since arriving in Ukraine, the precise rocket artillery system has slowed Russia’s advance and opened the ground for the Ukrainian counteroffensive last summer and fall, particularly with attacks on warehouses and supply facilities.
As for the sale of HIMARS to the Netherlands, the DSCA announcement said it “will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by enhancing the security of a NATO ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.
The proposed sale will enhance the Netherlands’ military objectives of upgrading capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies,” the announcement continues. “The Netherlands intends to use these defense items and services to modernize its armed forces and expand its capabilities to strengthen its national defense and deter regional threats. The Netherlands will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.”
DSCA added: “There will be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.”
Last year, Lockheed Martin said they would increase annual HIMARS manufacturing to 96 units. Production began in 2018 at a rate of 48 systems annually and is expected to reach about 60 systems annually by the end of 2022.
The company was awarded a $431 million contract for full production in December designed to meet the needs of the US military and its allies and partners abroad.
A recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) warned about the state of the US military’s stockpiles of key munitions and the ability of the defense industrial base to rapidly ramp up production in the event of a possible war with China.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) cautioned that if there were a battle in the Taiwan Straits, the United States “would likely run out of some weaponry, such as long-range precision-guided munitions, in less than a week.”
The CSIS report classified the US military’s HIMARS inventories as “medium” and recommended that the Pentagon consider committing to multi-year acquisitions to encourage investment in boost capabilities.
He also suggested exploring the co-production of HIMARS with Poland as a means of “allied offshoring” of production to increase capacity and support an economic partnership.