Return to

Feb. 17, 2022
Notes from the Pentagon

Poles want 1,000 U.S. anti-tank missiles for Ukraine

By Bill Gertz
The Polish military made an urgent request for 1,000 U.S. Army Javelin anti-tank missiles earlier this month, but Pentagon red tape is delaying efforts to get large numbers of the missiles to the Ukrainian military, “Inside the Ring” has learned.

Col. Artur Kuptel, chief of the Polish Armament Agency, stated in a Feb. 3 letter to Col. Scott Wallace, chief of the office of defense cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw that Poland wants to buy 1,000 Javelins, known by the Pentagon as FMG-148E missiles. The Javelins are a highly-effective guided anti-tank missile that could bolster defenses against the hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles now massed along Ukraine’s border with Russia, along with an estimated 130,000 troops poised to invade.

“Due to urgent need, the delivery from stock is accepted,” Col. Kuptel wrote, adding that the Polish government would pay for the weapons, including 300 launch systems.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv posted in a tweet Friday pictures of Javelin missiles arriving in Ukraine. “Fifteen flights — and more to come. Another [approximately] 90 tons of Javelins, ammunition, and defensive assistance authorized” by President Biden for the Ukrainian armed forces, the embassy said.

However, the 400 Javelins is significantly less than 1,000 missiles sought by the Poles.

Military analysts say the need to supply a large number of Javelins is to provide the Ukrainians with portable arms that could be used by a potential resistance force in post-invasion attacks.

According to a congressional source, a Pentagon legislative affairs official notified concerned members of Congress that the Javelins are stuck in the military bureaucracy.

“At the current moment, the U.S. Army is still sorting out multiple requests and what may be available for these high demand assets,” the official stated on Monday. “So a final decision is still pending.”

Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon declined to comment, citing a policy of not discussing arms transfers until they are officially announced.

“The United States has committed more security assistance to Ukraine in the last year than at any point in history — $650 million,” Mr. Pahon said.

“We also work closely with allies and partners on this support, including our NATO ally Poland. We refer you to Poland for more details on its assistance efforts with Ukraine, which have been commendable.”

The military attache office at the U.S. Embassy in Poland did not respond to a request for comment.

Javelins are man-portable “fire-and-forget” weapons that use infrared guidance. The guidance allows users of the weapon to move and hide to avoid counterattacks after firing. The Javelin warhead can break through modern tank armor by hitting from above where armor is less reinforced. It has a range of around 6,500 feet.

In addition to tanks, the missiles can be used against static fortifications.

According to the Pentagon, the U.S. government has provided $2.7 billion in security aid to Ukraine. That has included $200 million worth of anti-armor arms, including Javelins, sent in December. Ukraine’s government has said Western countries have provided $1.5 billion in military aid. Germany has rejected sending any weapons to Kyiv.

The Polish military letter was obtained by Washington Times columnist Rowan Scarborough.

China shows off new submarine
China has shown off what appears to be a submarine not previously displayed as part of Beijing’s growing fleet of naval weapons.

Video of the submarine transiting on the surface of what appears to be a river in China was posted on Chinese social media Feb. 8 and widely circulated on Twitter the same day.

Military analysts said the diesel-electric submarine appears to be a smaller vessel than other Chinese submarines and is designed for coastal operations. Estimates put the length of the sub at around 160 feet with a displacement of about 1,100 tons.

Disclosure of the new submarine raises new questions about whether U.S. intelligence agencies were caught off guard by the latest Chinese military advance. The Washington Times first reported in July 2006 that American spy agencies were surprised by the first public photos posted online in China of the Yuan-class attack submarine that was built entirely in secret.

Military analyst H.I. Sutton said in a blog post that the new Chinese submarine is unlike anything in Western navies.

“While the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) overall submarine expansion has been towards larger submarines, notably nuclear-powered ones, this new boat does not fit the expected trend,” Mr. Sutton said. “It may be sophisticated, but it is also small. It does not neatly fit into the array of types currently fielded by other major navies. China is, it appears, doing its own thing.”

The Chinese video was later deleted by censors. But Mr. Sutton’s blog Naval News was able to geolocate the submarine transit as taking place in the Yangtze River. The location is downriver from Wuhan shipyards that have built Chinese submarines in the past. The sub was moving toward Shanghai where Wuhan-built submarines are sent for completion.

The new sub appears to have originated at the same Wuhan shipyard where the Yuan-class was secretly built in the early 2000s.

“One theory is that the submarine was built for export because the design is similar to the [China Shipbuilding Industry Corp.] concepts shown abroad,” Mr. Sutton said.

Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could all be customers for the new sub.

The small submarine also could be useful to the PLA for its operation in the South China Sea, where China is seeking to take control of the strategic waterway. The U.S. military has been pushing back against those illegal claims to the sea with frequent warship freedom of navigation operations and aerial surveillance.

China eyes U.S., NATO intel flights near Ukraine
Military analysts say the crisis over Russian military intimidation of Ukraine is providing valuable intelligence gathered by Moscow and shared with Beijing.

Russia several years ago concluded an intelligence-sharing agreement with China that could prove especially valuable in the current European standoff for the People’s Liberation Army.

“There is no question that the PLA will be receiving intelligence about how the U.S. and NATO have responded to this contingency,” said retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former Pacific Fleet intelligence director.

Non-government flight trackers have disclosed what appear to be U.S. military ISR — intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — flights in and around Ukraine.

Russian military intelligence can obtain valuable intelligence on how the U.S. and NATO gather intelligence on foreign military operations, insights that can be used in future operations.

Electronic warfare is expected to be a key feature of both Russian and Chinese military operations in the future, so learning U.S. intelligence collection procedures is key to shutting down the spying prior to and during attacks.

Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, said the Ukraine crisis is “the gift that keeps on giving” for China.

“As China’s leaders watch events unfold in Ukraine, they will understandably try to copy some of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s tactics, identify critical weaknesses in the response of the U.S. and its allies, and then try to avoid some of Putin’s mistakes,” Mr. Pei stated in an article in Japan’s Asia Nikkei.

Mr. Pei said Beijing may interpret the U.S. reluctance to go to war with Russia over Ukraine as based on fears of a potential nuclear-armed conflict.

“If this is indeed the lesson, we should not be surprised if the Ukraine crisis further energizes China to invest more in its military capabilities and raise the stakes of a potential war over Taiwan to a level unacceptable for the U.S.,” he said.

Sanctions threats by the United States and the West also provide China with a preview of the economic response to an attempted takeover of Taiwan. China can now prepare for a cutoff of key trade and take steps to prepare for economic curbs.

China also could learn from Mr. Putin’s mistake in limiting his options by demanding written security guarantees from the West as he tried to keep Ukraine isolated from the West.

China will seek to remain more flexible in its demands on Taiwan.

“China’s ultimate objective is to regain Taiwan, also without a catastrophic war,” Mr. Pei said. “Beijing will make sure that, when the right opportunity comes, it will have the necessary military capabilities and economic resilience to make the threat of use of force credible.”

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

  • Return to