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13 Oct, 2022 11:46

UK to send air defense missiles to Ukraine

Britain will donate AMRAAM missiles to Kiev, defense minister Ben Wallace says
UK to send air defense missiles to Ukraine

The UK will provide Ukraine with Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) to help the country “defend its skies,” British defense minister Ben Wallace has said. The announcement follows large-scale Russian strikes against Ukrainian military targets and infrastructure earlier this week.

“I have authorized the supply of AMRAAM anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine,” Wallace said in a statement on Thursday. “These weapons will help Ukraine defend its skies from attacks and strengthen their overall missile defence alongside the US NASAMS,” he added.

Dozens of missiles are expected to be delivered to Ukraine in the coming weeks, according to Sky News.

London has provided £2.3 billion (around $2.5 billion) worth of military aid to Kiev since the start of the conflict with Moscow in late February, but it’s the first time that it will be supplying such a powerful type of weaponry.

The launchers for the AMRAAM won’t be coming from the UK as the missiles are expected to be fired from US-supplied National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS).

Hundreds of additional air defense missiles of other types will also be sent to Ukraine as well as more aerial drones and 18 howitzers, according to Britain.

The US earlier promised eight NASAMS, with the White House saying on Wednesday that it was looking to deliver two of those launchers “as soon as we can.”

The statement followed heavy Russian missile strikes on Ukraine on Monday and Tuesday. Moscow said that they were in response to “terrorist tactics” employed by Kiev, which included sabotage attempts at the Kursk nuclear power plant and the TurkStream gas pipeline as well as the truck bombing of the Crimean Bridge on Saturday.

The Russian defense ministry said its missiles had hit all intended targets and that all the goals of the operation were achieved. According to Russia’s State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, 70 facilities of Ukrainian energy infrastructure were hit, with the country losing 50% of its generating capacity. Ukraine’s energy minister confirmed that 30% of the country’s energy infrastructure had been damaged by the missile barrage.

Following the strikes, President Zelensky posted on Twitter that “air defense is currently the number one priority in our defense cooperation” with foreign partners.

On Wednesday, Ukraine said that the first unit of Germany’s state-of-the-art IRIS-T air defense system had arrived. Berlin has promised four of them to Kiev, with the remaining three expected to be shipped next year.

Moscow has long condemned the deliveries of weapons to Ukraine by the US, EU, UK and some other nations, arguing that they only prolonged the fighting and increased the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.