The U.S. announced Friday another $400 million in security assistance for Ukraine, including more ammunition for systems the U.S. has already provided and for the first time, armored vehicle-launched bridges (AVLBs) to help with river crossings.

The AVLBs have a metal bridge that unfolds to help tanks and other wheeled combat vehicles cross gaps and rivers in combat conditions. The bridge can typically unfold in about three minutes and stretch about 60 feet, according to the Worldwide Equipment Guide.

FILE: South Carolina Army National Guard Soldiers from 4th Battlion, 118th Regiment and 174th Engineer Company conduct combined arms breaching exercises at McCrady Training Center, Eastover, S.C., Nov. 3, 2018. 

Staff Sgt. Jerry Boffen

U.S. officials say the package includes eight of these bridge-launching vehicles. 

River crossings in a contested environment are considered risky maneuvers but will be critical to Ukraine’s ability to make advances during its expected counteroffensive this spring. 

Last spring, Russian forces struggled at river crossings over the Siversky Donets River in the Donbas. At least one attempt in the Luhansk region failed when Ukrainian forces destroyed the pontoon bridge Russia was trying to use. The British Defense Ministry at the time said Russia lost “significant armored maneuver elements” of at least one battalion tactical group — that is, roughly at least 800 troops — in the attack. 

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Friday’s package is the Biden administration’s 33rd drawdown of equipment from current Defense Department stocks since August 2021. In addition to the bridges, the package supplies more ammunition for the Howitzers and the long-range rocket systems the U.S. has previously provided. There’s additional ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), more 155mm artillery rounds, 105mm artillery rounds, and 25mm ammunition. 

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl told Congress earlier this week that equipment in drawdowns generally arrives in Ukraine within days or a handful of weeks of being announced. 

In total, the U.S. has committed more than $32 billion in weapons assistance for Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion last year.