The U.S. has provided around 20 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine, the New York Times reported on Oct. 18, citing two Western officials.
The delivery "was carried out in secrecy, out of concern that they could be attacked by Russia as they were shipped," the New York Times reported.
The news about the delivery of ATACMS was also not made public as "Ukraine wanted to try to catch the Russians off guard."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had long campaigned for the donation of these weapons due to their range, which would allow Ukrainian forces to strike Russian targets deep behind the front line.
However, the delivery was agreed on the condition that Ukraine would not use them to strike targets on Russian territory, one source said.
On Oct. 17, the White House confirmed the U.S. provided Ukraine with ATACMS, after the Ukrainian military said it had used them for the first time on the battlefield.
The targets were military airfields located near Berdiansk in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Luhansk, Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported.
The attack destroyed nine helicopters, an air defense system, and an ammunition warehouse, according to Ukraine's Special Operations Forces.
"We believe these ATACMS will provide a significant boost to Ukraine's battlefield capabilities," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement on Oct. 17.
According to Watson, the ATACMS sent to Ukraine have a range of 165 kilometers. Newer variations of ATACMS have a maximum range of around 300 kilometers.
Delivering the medium-range variant to Ukraine was considered a compromise that would increase Ukraine's striking ability without depleting U.S. stockpiles of newer, longer-range ATACMS.
The White House made approved the transfer ATACMS to Ukraine in August, and the weapons were secretly part of a weapons package announced on Sept. 21, according to Politico.
Despite the shorter range, these weapons are able to strike the numerous Russian armor and munitions depots, command and control centers, and logistics that are massed behind the front lines.
"Today, I am very grateful to the United States. Our agreements with President Biden are being implemented," Zelensky said during his evening address on Oct. 17, describing the systems as very accurate.