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NASAMS: The Missile Defense System in Ukraine Putin Will Hate

NASAMS for Ukraine
NASAMS. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The war in Ukraine has gone quite badly for Russian President Putin as he has been unable to win the war in any measurable way. But he has made it painful for Kyiv, attacking with missiles and drones on a massive scale. NASAMS could make that a lot harder. 

Long-awaited air defense systems have arrived in Ukraine from the US and others, the country’s defense minister said on Monday as Russian forces continue to attack cities with missiles and suicide drones.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on social media that the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) arrived with Italian-made Aspide medium-range systems.

“These weapons will significantly strengthen #UAarmy and will make our skies safer,” Reznikov said. “We will continue to shoot down the enemy targets attacking us. Thank you to our partners: Norway, Spain and the US.”

NASAMS are ground-based air defense systems that provide short- to medium-range protection and can be used to defend against drones, missiles, and some aircraft.

According to Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, a Norwegian company that worked with Raytheon Technologies to develop the weapons, these systems are used in multiple countries around the world, including several in Europe, and have been used to protect Washington, DC 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since 2005.

Kyiv have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of much-needed air defense systems for months, but the need for NASAMS and other similar defense systems was made even more urgent in recent weeks as Russian forces have used missiles and Iranian-made suicide drones packed with explosives to batter Ukrainian cities in continuous waves of attacks targeting civilian infrastructure.

In response to these attacks,Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said air defense was the number one priority for his country, prompting the US and its NATO allies to begin rushing to deliver critical air defense systems to Ukraine. Among the first to arrive was the German IRIS-T Surface-Launched-Missile (SLM) system.

Though the US announced plans to send NASAMS to Ukraine along with other weaponry, it was unclear exactly when these systems would arrive on the battlefield.

At a press briefing last week, a reporter asked Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder about Russia’s stockpile of long-range munitions, and if there’s urgency in getting NASAMS into Ukrainian hands.


NASAMS launch. Image Credit: Industry Handout.

“In terms of air defense capabilities, this continues to be a priority for the US government, for the Department of Defense to work closely with the Ukrainians, with our allies and our partners to try to get them additional air defense capability,” Ryder responded.

“As you highlighted with the NASAMS, we expect those to be delivered very soon. Again, we’ll allow the Ukrainians to announce when those arrive in country,” he continued. “But we’re going to continue to look at other ways that we can support them.”

Ukraine’s announcement on the arrival of the NASAMS in Ukraine comes just days after the US announced a new $400 million security package for Ukraine, which includes, among other weapons and systems, American-made HAWK air defense missiles, which are medium-range surface-to-air missiles made by Raytheon.

Jake Epstein is a Junior Breaking News Reporter on the Speed Desk, based in Boston. He focuses on military, defense, and security issues. Prior, he worked at The Times of Israel, freelanced in the Boston area, and interned at CBS Boston. He graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in journalism and international relations in May 2020. At Lehigh, he was the editor in chief of the independent student newspaper The Brown and White. This first appeared in Insider.

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Jake Epstein is a Junior Breaking News Reporter on the Speed Desk, based in Boston.