Putin now has a NASAMS problem: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the United States has sent more sophisticated air-defense systems, or the NASAMS. The news comes as Russia prepares to deploy hundreds of thousands of reserve troops to Ukraine as part of a “partial mobilization” announced on Wednesday.
“We absolutely need the United States to show leadership and give Ukraine the air-defense systems. I want to thank President Biden for a positive decision that has been already made,” Zelenskyy said in the interview, confirming publicly for the first time that Ukraine has been given the advanced missile system.
Short for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, the NASAMS system could potentially help Ukraine build on its great successes with the HIMARS missile system. The news also follows months of requests from Kyiv for long-range missile systems that could make striking Russian territory much easier for Ukrainian forces.
Zelenskyy also used the interview to thank the United States for its continued support for Ukraine’s war effort and specifically referenced the HIMARS and other rocket launchers used to push back Russian forces to the border in recent weeks. The Ukrainian president also stressed that his military still needs more support in the coming weeks and months, saying that the United States’ donations are not “nearly enough to cover the civilian infrastructure, schools, hospitals, universities, homes of Ukrainians” being destroyed by Russian forces.
In late August, the United States Department of Defense announced a contract for the procurement of NASAMS systems for Ukraine worth $182,295,333, meaning Zelenskyy’s confirmation was not unexpected.
What Is the NASAMS?
The NASAMS missile launcher system has been in service since 1998 and is manufactured by Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace. The missile system is used to transport and launch Raytheon missiles, including AIM-120 AMRAAM, AMRAAN ER and AIM 9X Sidewinder Block II. The advanced missile launcher offers 360° missile launching capabilities and can be used both during the day and night and in all weather conditions.
It’s not the long-range missile system Ukraine has been asking for for the last six months, but it will assist the Ukrainian military in identifying, engaging, and destroying Russian missiles, UAVs, and aircraft.
Each NASAMS comes with three launchers, all of which can carry as many as six ready-to-fire missiles. Troops can use the missile system to launch strikes from as far away as 40km.
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.