Pentagon error 'overvalued US aid to Ukraine by $US3b'
The Pentagon overestimated the value of the ammunition, missiles and other equipment it sent to Ukraine, a Senate aide and a military official say, in an error that may lead the way for more weapons being sent to the country for its defence against Russian forces.
The error - an overvaluation of about $US3 billion ($A4.5 billion) - was the result of assigning a higher than warranted value on weaponry that was taken from US stocks and then shipped to Ukraine, two senior defence officials said on Thursday.
"We've discovered inconsistencies in how we value the equipment that we've given" to Ukraine one of the officials told Reuters.
The officials and the Senate aide spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Congress is being notified of the accounting adjustment on Thursday, the sources said.
The defence official said it is possible the amount of overvalued weaponry could grow beyond $US3 billion as the Pentagon examines the situation more thoroughly.
In its accounting, the Pentagon used replacement cost to value the weapons aid instead of the weaponry's value when it was purchased and depreciated, the senior military officials said.
Since August 2021, the United States has sent weapons valued at about $US21.1 billion to Ukraine from its stockpiles.
Changing the valuation of the equipment could delay US President Joe Biden's administration of the need to ask Congress to authorise more funds for Ukraine as the debt ceiling debate intensifies.
"The Department of Defense's change in evaluating the costs of arms sent to Ukraine is a major mistake," US Senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.
"Its effect would be to underestimate future needs for our European allies. Our priority should be a Ukrainian victory over (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Unilaterally altering military aid calculations is an attempt at deception and undermines this goal."
The US has sent a wide variety of equipment to Ukraine in 37 Presidential Drawdown Authority packages including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, Javelin anti-tank weapons and a Patriot surface-to-air missile system.
"The services - the army, navy, air force, Marines - were using the current replacement cost of the item," one of the senior defense officials said.
A March 31 memo, seen by Reuters, clarified to the top accountants in each branch of service which method should be used, citing existing regulation.
It will take time to work through the accounting for billions of dollars worth of equipment sent to Ukraine, the senior defence officials said.
In the case of 155 millimetre ammunition for Howitzer cannons, of which more than 1.5 million have been sent to Ukraine, each currently cost about $US800.
But the actual cost of each shell, which have been delivered to the US military each year for several decades, can be averaged out for a much lower price, one of the senior defence officials said.