Since Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, Canada has joined more than a dozen countries in scrambling to send weapons to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. While we haven’t been able to pack cargo planes with prestige weaponry like Stinger missiles or Switchblade drones, there are nevertheless a fair amount of Canadian guns, rockets and pre-packaged meals soon finding their way into Ukrainian hands. Below, a list of military gear that Canada has sent or pledged to the defence of Ukraine.
4,500 M72 rocket launchers
Probably the most famous weapon of the Russo-Ukrainian War thus far has been the Javelin, an American shoulder-mounted “fire and forget” missile designed to automatically lock onto enemy tanks and destroy them from above. The 1960s-era M72 is at the other end of the technological spectrum; it’s a one-time-use, shoulder-mounted tube that fires an unguided rocket out the front. Even if it doesn’t have any electronic gizmos, the M72 can still be very deadly in ambushing convoys.
7,500 hand grenades
The Department of Defence didn’t specify what kind of grenades they’re sending to Ukraine, but Canadian soldiers typically use the C-13, the Canadian designation of the American M67. Grenade technology hasn’t changed all that much since the First World War, but this grenade is very intentionally shaped like a baseball on the premise that U.S. soldiers would probably have an easier time throwing it.
Satellite imagery to keep tabs on the Russians
It was while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Europe that he promised to provide Ukraine with real-time imagery from Canada’s Radarsat-2 satellite to track the movements of Russian forces. Left unsaid is that Canada actually gave this capability to Ukraine in 2015, after Russia’s seizure of Crimea, but withdrew it a few months later due to red tape.
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1,600 fragmentation vests (approximately)
The Canadian Armed Forces just replaced a lot of their fragmentation vests, so it’s not entirely clear whether Ukraine is getting our new ones or our old ones. If it’s the latter, they were reportedly disliked among Canadian soldiers for being outdated.
390,000 Individual Meal Packs
These are combat rations; portable, high-calorie meals designed to be eaten by a soldier who has minimal equipment to cook with. And Canada does combat rations particularly well. The entrees include gourmet options such as “veal cutlet with mustard sauce” and “gemelli pasta and vegetables.” Now tack on bread, a date square, a brand-name chocolate bar, several kinds of beverages, generous condiments and breath mints. It even comes with a compressed napkin stamped with a maple leaf.
100 Carl Gustav M2 recoilless rifles (and 2,000 rounds of ammunition)
Who is Carl Gustav, you ask? He was a 17th century Swedish king who lent his name to a town that just happened to become a major arms manufacturer. Like the M72, the M2 is little changed from the shoulder-mounted anti-tank weapons that were in use during the Second World War. But basically every Western military keeps at least a few of these on hand, for the simple fact that it’s a very cheap way to destroy an enemy armoured vehicle.
A $7 million planeload of random guns
While Canada has sent nearly $1 billion in foreign aid to Ukraine since 2015, Ottawa was always careful to never send the one thing Kyiv wanted most: weapons. That all changed on Valentine’s Day. Just 10 days before the start of the Russian invasion, Canada suddenly told Kyiv to expect a $7 million planeload of “lethal weapons.” This apparently consisted of basically anything that could kill someone: machine guns, pistols, sniper rifles, carbines (sort of like a shortened assault rifle) and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition.
Something else that got thrown into the back of a Globemaster in those last pre-invasion shipments to Ukraine? The military calls it “personal carriage” and “load carriage” equipment, although most civilians would probably recognize it as “backpacks.” To be fair, military-grade “load carriage” gear is much more complicated than a backpack; it describes the latticework of straps and supports that allow a soldier to comfortably layer their body in equipment.
About $50 million of miscellaneous army gear
Canada operated an active training mission in Ukraine for eight years starting in 2014, and during that time the Canadian Armed Forces sent over about $30 million worth of gear, including radios, bomb disposal equipment and a mobile field hospital. Right after the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Canada announced it would be sending over another $25 million worth of stuff, mostly “protective” equipment such as gas masks, helmets and night vision goggles.