Amid an onslaught of Russian drones and missiles, Kiev has been asking Washington for NASAMS for weeks
The US will send the first two NASAMS air defense systems to Ukraine “in the very near future,” a Pentagon official said on Monday. With Russia targeting Ukrainian power infrastructure with missiles and drones, Kiev has lobbied the West for better air defense weaponry.
In a briefing to reporters, the defense official said the US has “committed eight NASAMS and associated munitions, and two of those will be in Ukraine in the very near future.” The official also said that Washington would send spare parts for Ukraine’s Soviet-era air defense systems, as well as various counter-unmanned aerial systems.
The National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) is manufactured by US defense contractor Raytheon Technologies, and fires AIM-120 or AMRAAM missiles at short ranges to bring down drones, missiles, and aircraft. The US announced in September that it would provide these systems to Ukraine, with National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby stating last month that deliveries would be expedited after Russia began nationwide drone and missile strikes on Ukrainian military and infrastructure targets.
Russia has made effective use of inexpensive ‘kamikaze’ drones to cripple Ukraine’s infrastructure, with Kiev’s Soviet and NATO-supplied air defense systems unable to stop the unmanned aircraft. It is unclear whether the NASAMS will prove more effective against the drones than the German IRIS-T systems already fielded by the Ukrainian military.
The Pentagon official said that “a number of countries” have agreed to provide AMRAAM missiles for the systems.
Russia shifted its military tactics in Ukraine last month and began launching attacks against energy infrastructure, after a truck bomb killed three civilians on the Crimean Bridge. While Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky denied ordering the bombing, the attack was celebrated by officials in Kiev and blamed by Russia on Ukrainian intelligence.
Ukrainian officials responded by asking the West for better air defense systems, petitioning the US, UK, Germany, France, and Israel for their surface-to-air missile technology. While the NATO members have promised to deliver, Israel has refused, and Kiev now wants the US to pressure Tel Aviv. Israel has, however, offered to help Ukraine develop an alert system to warn of incoming missile attacks.
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