Pentagon says first National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System has reached Ukraine
Ukraine has received its first delivery of the long-awaited National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), a major weapon meant to boost Kyiv in its nearly nine-month war with Moscow.
The NASAMS air defense system, meant to knock down Russian drones, ballistic missiles or manned aircraft, will “significantly strengthen” Ukraine’s forces, the country’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced online on Monday.
“These weapons will significantly strengthen the [Ukrainian army] and will make our skies safer,” Reznikov wrote on Telegram and Twitter.
Pentagon press secretary and Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder on Tuesday confirmed that the NASAMS had been delivered. He said the advanced system “will contribute to Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and will help protect the Ukrainian people against Russian aerial attacks to include those conducted by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or cruise missiles.”
The U.S. government committed eight NASAMS to Ukraine in July, and last month announced it would accelerate shipments following a Russian missile barrage on Kyiv and other cities that was intended to target civilians and infrastructure.
The NASAMS are critical to the fight, as the ground-based system provides short- to medium-range protection and are the same defenses used to protect the skies of Washington, D.C., since 2005.
“It does provide a significant air defense capability in the sense that it can protect against – as I mentioned — UAV attacks, both armed and unarmed. It can defend against helicopters, cruise missiles, as well as crewed aircraft. Basically, any type of advanced aerial threat that Russia may try to employ against Ukrainian targets or civilians,” Ryder said.
“It does add an extra arrow to the quiver, so to speak, for Ukrainian air defense,” he added.
As part of the weapons delivery, the U.S. provided training to Ukrainian troops on how to operate and maintain NASAMS, which they recently completed somewhere in Europe, Ryder said. He declined to identify the country where the Ukrainians were trained on the system.
Even with the new air defense system, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues to press Western leaders for additional lethal aid, last week asking the leaders of the Group of Seven nations for such help.
“We must ensure full protection of the Ukrainian sky,” Zelensky said Saturday.
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