Pentagon details air-defense deliveries to Ukraine
The US plans to supply Ukraine with the first batch of National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) within the coming weeks, the Department of Defense announced on Monday. Washington pledged to bolster Kiev’s air-defense capabilities after Russia unleashed a missile barrage on Ukrainian military targets and energy infrastructure last week, over what it called a “terrorist attack” on the strategic Crimean Bridge.
Speaking to reporters, an unnamed senior Pentagon official said the US is “looking to try to get the first [NASAMS] into Ukraine within the next several weeks,” adding that it has already provided Kiev with more than 1,400 shoulder-launched Stinger air-defense systems.
He went on to say that the US believes these deliveries to Ukraine “continue to be an area of emphasis” for Western countries. Last week, the US vowed to expedite the shipment of two of the eight NASAMS it has long promised to Kiev.
The UK, another major supporter of Kiev, has also pledged to supply Ukraine with dozens of Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) to help “defend its skies.” The rockets, which are expected to be fired from NASAMS, are scheduled to be delivered in the coming weeks, according to Sky News.
NASAMS is a short to medium range ground-based air-defense system developed by American company Raytheon and Norway’s Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace. This weapon, which has a range of 40km, can be used against unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles, and aircraft.
The West has shifted its focus to supplying Ukraine with anti-air capabilities following Russia’s massive missile strikes last week that targeted military and critical infrastructure, causing widespread blackouts. According to Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, Ukraine lost 50% of its energy generating capacity at the time.
The attacks came in response to a deadly explosion on the Crimean Bridge, a strategic link between the peninsula and the Russian mainland, earlier this month. Moscow accused Kiev of orchestrating what it called a “terrorist attack” against the country.