As winter draws closer, the Ukrainian military is shifting gears and making sure they can support their troops with the right kind of equipment and weaponry. With this, President Volodomyr Zelensky has updated their weapons wish list.
For months, Ukraine continually asked for long-range weapons like HIMARS, and after these missile systems improved their offense (compared to their makeshift missile trucks), they have made a dent in pushing Russians into the borders. But, the weight of the missile attacks on their civilian regions (at least 10 cities, including Kyiv) had placed a heightened sense of urgency.
Ruslan Stefanchuk, Ukraine’s top parliament member, sent letters to their leadership to call on the United States and NATO to deliver National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS). NASAMS was first developed in the 1990s by the Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA). This defense system integrated with the battle management command and control system based on KS500F computers and KMC900 consoles. Then, it was upgraded from the first generation of NASAMS to the second, and the latest iteration is NASAMS 3.
NASAMS 3 upgrades were completed on May 29019, and these come with an updated Fire Distribution Center Station and ergonomic control surfaces. It also has redesigned Mk2 canister launcher that can fire short-range missiles and ARMAAM-ER missiles.
“Ukrainian Armed Forces had successfully [shot] down almost half of the missiles and Iranian drones, but unfortunately our air defense resources are limited,” Stefanchuk wrote in the letter seen by Foreign Policy. “By this attack, Russia received no military advance; it was an act of terror, targeted exclusively against the civilian population. NASAMS Ground Air Defense Systems are crucial to secure critical civil and military infrastructure from Russian cruise missiles and bombings, while Land-Based Phalanx Weapon System (C-RAM) would allow for the closest point protection of the most important objects, especially crucial power plants.”
Though NASAMS seem to be a good, sustainable solution for the Ukrainians, the big question is: will they arrive soon enough to counter Russian missiles in their cities?
“We’re not talking Stingers here. We’re talking about something that has mid-range and higher ranges,” said one Ukrainian adviser speaking anonymously with Politico.
As for the US, the Biden administration is holding “quiet” talks on whether they could send F-15s, F16s, and Gray Eagles since September, but negotiations could be expedited after what happened yesterday.
“The concerns aren’t merely that the high-tech systems would be provocative to Moscow, but also that complex maintenance and support for the systems would challenge Ukraine in the middle of the war. In the case of Patriots, their relative scarcity makes supplying Ukraine a challenge. US Army Patriot units are some of the most deployed units in the service, with allies across Europe, the Middle East and Pacific demanding the protection they provide.”
There’s also the question of training on two different systems. Though Uncle Sam has approved the financing of NASAMS, officials warn that soldiers trained on both systems are rare. The Pentagon has approved a $182 million contract to Raytheon Technologies for NASAMS, but the initial delivery timeline is not until November.
“The NASAMS and Patriot are different systems and you’re training the same air defenders so there’s only so much they can do,” the staffer said, who like others in this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the talks. “I think we’ll get there.”
Additionally, former NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it is a must to improve Ukraine’s missile defense infrastructure as well as aerial capabilities. Rasmussen is meeting with US officials in Washington this week to explore an in-depth strategy to best support Ukraine this season, especially since Russia is expanding its attack strategy with the use of missiles. According to Politico, Rasmussen will be helping Zelensky’s top adviser, Andriy Yermak, to develop the Kyiv Security Compact, a plan to align Western powers for long-term support of Ukraine.
“Ukraine has been able to prevent most Russian attacks, but we may expect increased Russian missile attacks against critical Ukrainian infrastructure. We need to deliver all assets that Ukrainians need to protect themselves against those missile attacks from Russia.”
As for the latest approved list of weapons for “IMMEDIATE RELEASE,” see the complete list below:
- Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
- Over 8,500 Javelin anti-armor systems;
- Over 32,000 other anti-armor systems;
- Over 700 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- 126 155mm Howitzers and up to 806,000 155mm artillery rounds;
- 2,000 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds;
- 20 105mm Howitzers and 180,000 105mm artillery rounds;
- 126 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers;
- 22 Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment;
- 16 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition;
- 20 120mm mortar systems and 85,000 rounds of 120mm mortar rounds;
- 1,500 Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
- Four Command Post vehicles;
- Eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) and munitions;
- High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs);
- 20 Mi-17 helicopters;
- Hundreds of Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs);
- Four trucks and eight trailers to transport heavy equipment;
- 200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers;
- 40 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles with mine rollers;
- Mine clearing equipment and systems;
- Over 10,000 grenade launchers and small arms;
- Over 60,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
- Over 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets;
- Approximately 700 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- Laser-guided rocket systems;
- Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- 15 Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels;
- Over 50 counter-artillery radars;
- Four counter-mortar radars;
- Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- Ten air surveillance radars;
- Two harpoon coastal defense systems;
- 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats;
- M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
- C-4 explosives, demolition munitions, and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing;
- Tactical secure communications systems;
- Thousands of night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders;
- Commercial satellite imagery services;
- Explosive ordnance disposal protective gear;
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment;
- 100 armored medical treatment vehicles;
- Medical supplies to include first aid kits, bandages, monitors, and other equipment;
- Electronic jamming equipment;
- Field equipment, cold weather gear, and spare parts;
- Others: Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.