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NASAMS: The Next Big Air Defense System Headed to Ukraine

NASAMS. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
NASAMS launch. Image Credit: Industry Handout.

NASAMS is headed to Ukraine. That’s a big deal: Last week the White House announced another package of military aid to Ukraine. In addition, to anti-artillery radars and thousands of artillery rounds, the U.S. military is sending two powerful anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine.


NASAMS. Image Credit: Creative Commons.


Conspicuous in the latest package of military aid were the two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) that the Ukrainian military will be receiving.

Made by Raytheon and the Norwegian aerospace and defense firm Kongsberg, the NASAMS is a medium-range air defense weapon system based on the Sentinel radar, AMRAAM and GhostEye medium-range air-to-air missiles, and an integrated fire distribution center.

The NASAMS can deal with fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, and cruise missiles.

“We’re also providing for additional counter artillery radars, also very useful for this fight, in artillery fight but the item that’s new that I wanted draw your attention to is two NASAMS systems,” a senior U.S. defense official said after the newest package of military aid was announced.

“So this is, NASAMS stands for National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems, and this was a system that was co-produced with Norway. So we appreciate, you know, Norway’s support for us to be able to provide this system to Ukraine and this is an air defense system that obviously produced co-produced by the U.S. and Norway is a NATO system,” the U.S. defense official added.

“So for us, it’s important for us to be able to start to help the Ukrainians transition their air defense system from what is now a Soviet type system, to be able to introduce some of this modern technology,” the U.S. defense official said.

NASAMS: A Much-Needed Weapon System

It is undeniable that the Russian military has failed in Ukraine thus far. More than four months into the war, Russian troops have failed to achieve any of their primary objectives. Indeed, it took Moscow more than 70 days and thousands of casualties and destroyed tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles to capture two small Ukrainian cities in the Donbas (Severodonetsk and Lysychansk).

But despite its tactical failures, the Russian military has been wreaking havoc with its long-range fires. Russian ballistic and cruise missiles have been raining on Ukrainian cities. The Pentagon estimates that Moscow has launched more than 2,100 ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukrainian targets. Only last week, a pair of Russian Kh-22 KITCHEN anti-ship missiles struck a packed Ukrainian shopping mall, killing several civilians and wounding dozens. The NASAMS is designed to deal with such threats.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accepted the new weapon systems with open arms.

“I am especially grateful to the United States of America and personally to Biden for the new support package for Ukraine announced today, which includes very powerful NASAMS systems. An anti-aircraft missile complex that will significantly strengthen our air defense. We have worked hard for this supply. In total, this package is worth 820 million dollars and, in addition to NASAMS, also includes artillery munition and radars,” the Ukrainian president said.

“We are no less actively negotiating about other new weapons from our partners – it is necessary for Donbas, the Kharkiv region, the south of Ukraine. We are doing everything to break the advantage of the occupiers,” Zelensky added.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.