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The Sneaky Way Biden Could Get Air Defense to Ukraine

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

Raytheon Says U.S. Redirecting Air Defense Systems from Middle East to Ukraine – Greg Hayes, the CEO of American arms manufacturing company Raytheon, suggested this week that the United States is working with Middle Eastern countries to move several air defense systems over to Ukraine.

The goal, Hates said in an interview, is to send National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) to Ukraine in the next three to six months.

The United States would then supply new NASAMS to the Middle Eastern countries involved in the plan over the next two years.

“There are NASAMS deployed across the Middle East, and some of our NATO allies and we are actually working with a couple of Middle Eastern countries that currently employ NASAMS and trying to direct those back up to Ukraine,” Hayes said, referring to the U.S. federal government.

Neither Raytheon nor the Department of Defense has said which Middle Eastern countries are willing to take part in the exchange, but records show that Qatar and Oman are the biggest purchasers of NASAMS equipment in the Middle East.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of State approved the $215 million sale of defense equipment, including NASAMS, to Qatar.

Why Not Just Send New NASAMS to Ukraine?

The plan to shift existing NASAMS from the Middle East to Ukraine is designed to ensure that Ukraine has access to these vital air defense systems as quickly as possible.

The missile systems can take as long as 24 months to build and Ukraine needs access to new air defense systems as a matter of urgency.

Hayes revealed this week that manufacturing NASAMS takes so long largely because of the time it takes to purchase rocket motors and electronic parts of the weapons system.

The process of moving existing systems, therefore, is an attractive alternative – although it would negatively impact the Middle Eastern partners during the time it takes to deliver the new systems in two years.

Pentagon Confirms New NASAMS Contract for Raytheon

This week, the United States Army awarded a new $1.2 billion contract to Raytheon for an additional six NASAMS to be delivered directly to Ukraine.

The contract will allow the federal government to fulfill its promise of delivering a total of eight NASAMS to Ukraine to help protect against Russian missile strikes.

The first two NASAMS were delivered to Ukraine in November, and Bill LaPlante, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, described the missile systems as the “latest in the diverse set of air-defense capabilities” the United States is delivering to Ukraine.

The six NASAMS systems that will be built under the new contract appear to be separate from the NASAMS being supplied via partners in the Middle East, with a statement from the U.S. Army confirming that the six NASAMS systems being manufactured for Ukraine were funded by the $2.98 billion Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative that was announced in August.

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He 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.