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US-Norwegian air defence systems to protect Ukrainian cities: experts

The Norwegian-American NASAMS air defence system, which guards the skies over Washington DC and many other cities around the world, soon will also protect Ukraine. According to experts, its main role will be to neutralise Russian cruise missiles.

On July 1, the Pentagon officially announced that the US will purchase two NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) systems for Ukraine, fulfilling Kyiv’s long-stated request to send Western air defence systems.

NASAMS is one of the world’s widely used medium-range air defence systems. Its main concept was to adapt the standard US medium-range air-to-air missile, the AIM-120 AMRAAM, to be launched from ground launchers, although later versions were also adapted to use other missiles.

Ukraine is already working with the manufacturer to receive Norwegian mobile battery of NASAMS anti-aircraft missiles.

This will significantly strengthen the defense of Ukrainian skies, the spokesman for the Air Force Command Yuriy Ihnat said.

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) July 10, 2022

As Karl Mueller, an expert at the RAND Corporation centre, told the Polish Press Agency (PAP), “the main role of NASAMS will be to defend urban centres – such as Kyiv – against Russian cruise missiles.” He pointed out that the system has a similar role in other countries where it is used, including to defend Washington DC, Jakarta, Norwegian or Qatari military bases.

The expert added that he does not expect NASAMS to be used to shoot down Russian aircrafts as they rarely venture deep into Ukraine’s territory, wreaking havoc with the cruise missiles launched from afar instead.

Col David Shank, former commander of the US Army Air Defence Artillery Academy at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, believes similarly.

“Adding any air defence artillery capability will give the Ukrainian armed forces the ability to defend more key facilities. By adding NASAMS… the Ukrainian armed forces can use it to protect population centres, command and control nodes, air bases, or logistics centres,” he said.

US Department of Defense announced $820 million in security assistance for Ukraine

It includes ammunition for HIMARS, 2 NASAMS, up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, and
4 additional counter-artillery radars
📷by UkrPravda

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) July 2, 2022

Arrival date still unclear

It is still unclear when NASAMS will arrive in Ukraine. As a senior Pentagon official told reporters, the procedure for acquiring the system… could take “weeks or even months”. Another factor is training – according to Mr Shank, this is also a matter of “at least weeks”.

“Like Patriot, these systems are very technical and require a combination of several components. This means that many soldiers are needed to operate it, establishing a deconflicted airspace picture to avoid shooting down friendly forces,” he explained.

The expert assessed that the delivery of the two systems to Ukraine is probably only the beginning of similar deliveries to the war-torn country.

“It is a sign that the US and the West expect this war to continue and it is a move with the long term in mind, given how much it takes to train [soldiers]. I think this will be the beginning of the process of transforming Ukrainian weapon systems to NATO ones,” he emphasised.

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