Image: Arsen Fedosenko Image: Arsen Fedosenko

Germany buys three M142 HIMARS for Ukraine

During his trip to the North American continent and his visit to the United States, the German Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius announced in Washington that Germany will supply Ukraine with three M142 HIMARS.

The M142 HIMARS originate from US Army stocks, which should guarantee a relatively quick delivery to Ukraine. Officially, nothing is known about the costs of this deal, but SPIEGEL reports that €30 million will change ownership. If this is true, a more or less extensive ammunition package is likely to be part of the deal.

The idea for the purchase and delivery of the MLRS, which is very popular and highly valued in Ukraine, dates back to times when the $60 billion supplemental package in the US to assist Ukraine had not yet been passed.

At the time — the idea is probably already months old — the US was approached, and the German government offered to take over three systems, pay for them and deliver them to Ukraine.

Although the supplemental package, which is essential for Ukraine’s survival, has now been passed by both the Senate and Congress and the first arms deliveries are on their way to Ukraine, Germany is sticking to its offer. This is the first time that a country apart from the US will be delivering M142 HIMARS to Ukraine.

Possible reasons for the decision

There may be various reasons for Germany’s decision to provide Ukraine with three of these systems from US stocks, which we can only speculate about. Neither Pistorius himself nor his ministry has yet provided any information on this.

Pistorius and AustinImage: Bundeswehr/Marc Tessensohn
Boris Pistorius next to Lloyd Austin during his visit to the USA

In my opinion, there are three different possible reasons for the decision.

  • Replacement for losses in Ukraine
  • A (partial) realisation of the Bundestag motion of the governing parties regarding the supply of Ukraine with far-reaching weapons systems and ammunition which was approved in February
  • A first contribution to the newly founded Far-Reaching Rocket Artillery Capability Coalition

Let’s have a closer look at the three options, so you can decide for yourself what is more likely.

Replacement for losses in Ukraine

In war, there are losses, both of human life and of vital war material. Even if modern Western systems are usually better protected, this basic rule also applies to the MLRS produced in the US.

According to the internationally recognised “Oryx” project, one of the 39 Ukrainian M142 HIMARS delivered by the USA has been destroyed. Two others have been visually confirmed damaged and are most likely currently undergoing industrial repairs outside the country.

The financing and short-term delivery of three more M142 HIMARS could therefore be a one-for-one replacement for previously lost Ukrainian capacity. This means that 39 M142 HIMARS should be available again in Ukraine in the near future. Once the repair work on the two damaged MLRS has been completed, Ukraine will be able to use up to 41 of the highly effective MLRS, if no other systems are out of the country for maintenance.

Realisation of the Bundestag motion

Another possibility as to why Germany is supplying three M142 HIMARS to Ukraine is the (partial) realisation of the Bundestag motion of the governing parties regarding the supply of Ukraine with far-reaching weapons systems and ammunition.

Bundestag motion
Concrete demand for a delivery of additional far-reaching weapons systems and ammunition

The eight-page motion contains 27 different points in which the governing parties SPD, the Greens and FPD called on their own government to provide more assistance to Ukraine.

A motion that probably only happened because the opposition parties CDU/CSU had repeatedly submitted their own motions for the same purpose in the past. However, these motions were rejected without exception because of one point — the demand for the delivery of Taurus KEPD-350 to Ukraine.

On the 22nd of February, the Bundestag voted on the motion of the governing parties with a majority in favour. However, such a motion does not force the government to act. It is up to the government alone to decide which points and whether anything is realised at all.

In mid-March, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was asked about precisely this motion and point in the Bundestag. In response, he replied that it is of course also a matter of enabling Ukraine to carry out defensive military interventions with a range of 80 km, 100 km or even 150 km.

He went on to use MARS II — the German equivalent of the M142 HIMARS — as an example and spoke of further procurement initiatives also outside of Europe by Germany to supply Ukraine with weapons and ammunition with a range of more than 100 kilometres.

Scholz during the government questioning in the Bundestag 13th of March 2024
Scholz during the government questioning in the Bundestag 13th of March 2024

It is therefore quite possible that he was already referring to the plan to supply Ukraine with three of the American-made MLRS. The range of the standard GMLRS rockets HIMARS uses is around 84 kilometres.

Far-Reaching Rocket Artillery Capability Coalition

As a last possibility, one could see the donation of the three M142 HIMARS as a contribution to the newly founded Far-Reaching Rocket Artillery Capability Coalition. I wrote a detailed article about this in March, which I would like to warmly recommend to you.

Since the announcement of the establishment of the capability coalition, there have been no new announcements as far as I can tell, so unfortunately not much is known so far, but the announcement that has now been made fits exactly into the scheme.

The HIMARS system is a rocket artillery system which, depending on the ammunition used, has far-reaching striking capabilities.


What exactly the reason is that Germany is delivering exactly three HIMARS to Ukraine is not yet known and can currently only be assumed, but in my opinion the three possibilities I have mentioned are very reasonable.

A combination of reasons is also entirely possible. Who says that it is not possible for the German government to want to compensate for Ukraine’s losses and at the same time see this as fulfilment of a part of the Bundestag’s motion?

But one thing is certain. The systems, and even more so the ammunition that will most likely be supplied with them, are urgently needed in Ukraine and will hopefully be welcomed there in a few weeks’ time.

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