The Allies want to set up a “patchwork” air defense system for Ukraine

The Allies want to set up a “patchwork” air defense system for Ukraine

Washington is pressuring Ukraine’s allies to urgently build a “patchwork” of NATO-standard air defenses and compatible equipment, some state-of-the-art, some older, to protect key Ukrainian strategic targets from Russian bombing.

“What the (Ukrainian) leadership identified as the most urgent need was anti-aircraft defence,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in Brussels on Thursday, a day after a meeting of 50 allied countries coordinating their military support in Kyiv.

However, in order to build the “anti-aircraft shield” demanded by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, what the military calls a multi-layered surface-to-air defense system must be put in place.

“These are short-range, low-altitude systems, then medium-range, medium-altitude systems, and finally long-range, high-altitude systems,” the US chief of staff told reporters on Wednesday. Gen. Mark Milley.

These three layers will allow to protect Ukrainian strategic targets like big cities, important infrastructure or power centers from ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or even drones.

The United States has promised the NASAMS air defense system, the first two copies of which should soon arrive in Ukraine. They have ordered six more from manufacturer Raytheon, but delivery of these short- to medium-range, medium-altitude systems may not be for another two to three years.

Germany has delivered a first German Iris-T defense system of the latest generation to Kyiv, which will have to wait until next year for the other three promised. This medium-range but high-altitude system is designed to protect a small town.

To expedite the process, the United States on Wednesday asked its allies to provide their available anti-aircraft equipment, including older ones, as long as it met NATO standards.

– Espagnole “Hawks” –

Spain was the first to respond positively on Thursday: it will send four “Hawk” medium-range ground-to-air systems to Ukraine, Austin announced, hailing this “very, very quick response.”

These Cold War era systems have been modernized over the years. Spain renovated some of them to increase their lifespan.

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday that France would “deliver radars, systems and missiles to Kyiv to protect (the Ukrainians) from attacks, particularly to protect them from drone strikes.”

He did not name the model of the planned anti-aircraft systems, but an American military officer mentioned the SAMP/T high-altitude surface-to-air defense system, known as “Mamba”, the European competitor of the American Patriot, which is in service in France, in Italy and Singapore.

This Franco-Italian designed system is currently involved in NATO anti-aircraft defence.

“The Italians are apparently ready to see what we can give as SAMP-T, but it’s all very complex and has to be seen with other partners,” said the Elysee on Thursday. “It’s a work in progress given the Ukrainian demands.”

Paris also delivered “Crotale” short-range surface-to-air missiles, the French executive recalled.

The United Kingdom on Wednesday announced the delivery of AMRAAM rockets destined for United States-supplied NASAMS systems.

– “Technically complicated” –

Washington is also interested in the Spanish Spada 2000 system, which like the Mamba is made by European manufacturer MBDA, said the American official, who asked not to be identified. A modernized version of a medium-altitude, medium-range system that has been in service in Italy since the 1980s and has been sold to Spain, Kuwait and Pakistan.

To defend against ballistic missiles, Washington plans to equip Ukraine with long-range Patriot batteries. The US military, which has a limited supply of these, is urging other countries that have bought them to join the effort. Washington is also trying to persuade Israel to supply parts of its Iron Dome anti-aircraft system.

“Many countries have patriots. Many countries have different systems,” remarked General Milley in Brussels. “There are a number of Israeli systems that are very effective,” he added.

Once all these systems are delivered, it must be ensured “that they can be linked through the guidance and communication systems and that they have radars that can communicate with each other so that they can locate their target on approach,” explained the American chief of staff.

“It’s technically complicated,” he added. “It will take a while.”

Reference: www.challenges.fr

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