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NASAMS: How Ukraine Could Kill Russia’s Air Force

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Zelenskyy Asks for More As U.S. Prepares NASAMS Missile Donation – On Monday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan announced during the first day of this week’s G7 summit in Germany that the United States is finalizing the purchase of the advanced Norwegian NASAMS anti-aircraft system for Ukraine. Sullivan confirmed to reporters that, while the purchase is not yet official, the United States is working to secure the medium-to-long-range surface-to-air missile system.

Sullivan said that U.S. President Joe Biden has told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy his intentions, and also revealed the plan to fellow G7 leaders during Monday’s discussions.

“I can confirm that we are in fact, in the process of finalizing a package that includes advanced air defense capabilities. As President Joe Biden told President Zelenskyy, we do intend to finalize a package that includes advanced medium- and long-range air defense capabilities for the Ukrainians, along with some other items that are of urgent need, including ammunition for artillery and counter-battery radar systems,” Sullivan said.

What is the NASAMS?

Short for the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, manufacturer Kongsberg describes the NASAMS as “the first operational Network Centric Short to Medium Range Ground Based Air Defense System.”

Built in conjunction with Raytheon, the anti-aircraft missile system would give Ukraine a significant boost in its defensive capabilities. The news that the United States is looking to supply the weapon comes after the White House refused to supply long-range missiles to Ukraine, presumably over concerns that giving Ukraine the ability to more easily strike Russian territory could be seen as an escalation.

First developed in the 1990s, there are three variations of the missile system. The NASAMS 3 was revealed in 2019 and features an updated Fire Distribution Center Station and extended range. In October 2021, Raytheon also announced that the NASAMS 4 would feature a new medium-range S-band AESA radar system.

“The increased range and altitude coverage provided by GhostEye MR expands NASAMS capability to detect, track and identify enemy aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems, and cruise missile threats. The extended range of this new sensor also maximizes the capabilities of the family of effectors employed by NASAMS,” a press release from Raytheon explained.

Which NASAMS model Ukraine will receive, however, is unknown. Writing for this outlet, Sebastien Roblin noted that if Ukraine receives the NASAMS-3, it would provide “high-quality short-range air defense.” The system could, however, provide extended range by employing the AMRAAM-ER missile, “which would boost its range to 28 miles.”

Zelenskyy Asks For More

Also on Monday, President Zelenskyy called on G7 leaders to supply more modern air defenses to his country to help protect against daily missile strikes.

Zelenskyy joined the G7 leaders via videoconference as they met at a venue in the Bavarian Alps.

The Ukrainian president also took the opportunity to brief G7 leaders on how the hundreds of billions of dollars in aid has been used by his government and military so far. Zelenskyy also insisted that now was not the time to negotiate with Russia, stressing that is country must first be in a stronger militaristic position to undergo a new round of negotiations.

“His [Zelenskyy’s] goal is to end the war as quickly as possible and to get out of it in the best possible position, so that he can negotiate from a position of strength,” a French diplomat said on Monday.

While the United States works to secure the NASAMS missile systems for Ukraine, we could hear of more acquisitions from G7 and NATO countries by the end of the summit in Germany this week.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

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