The lack of an interceptor missile in Ukraine’s NASAMS air defence system prevents the weapon from being employed in combat.
According to the announcement, the NASAMS air defence systems have arrived in Ukraine, but no interceptors have been connected as of yet, raising many unanswered issues. According to sources in Ukraine, a NATO ally gave Ukraine its first NASAMS air defence system on August 7. The complex started to be used in Kyiv, the country’s capital, and several other places.
It is implied that the weapons have really arrived in Ukraine by the US’s announcement that the missiles for the air defence system would be supplied soon. The NASAMS air defence system was initially only going to be used in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, according to the announcement, but later it was said that the complexes would also defend both the central and western areas.
The precise deployment zones for NASAMS were not made clear. Because Ukraine needs to maintain secrecy in order to surprise the Russian Aerospace Forces, this is understandable. Multiple guided air defence missiles for the NASAMS system will be included in a new shipment of weaponry to Ukraine, it was revealed during the most recent news conference presided over by a Pentagon official.
This indicates that usage of the weapon could start as early as the second half of August. As of right now, the Ukrainian combat crews have finished their training, allowing them to engage in combat missions right away after obtaining their weapon. The arrival of two NASAMS medium-range air defence missile systems in Ukraine has now been officially confirmed. Depending on the system’s variant, there may be six or more launchers attached.
According to the pre-assignment, the launcher and the Norwegian-made guidance radar would be sent to Ukraine first, while the US will assume responsibility for the most valuable component of the aid package—the $1 billion in interceptor missile ammo. In the meantime, it is unclear why the majority of the $1 billion in aid funds is only sufficient to purchase rocket bombs for the NASAMS system and why there is so little money left over to fund HIMARS’ GMLRS.
But the response came swiftly, and it is clear that this amount is reasonable given the importance of high-tech missile weapons and how frequently they are used in combat. For instance, while Ukraine waits for two NASAMS systems, 36 AIM-120 missiles would be required to equip just two combinations of the basic anti-aircraft battery, which consists of three launchers that can each carry six missiles.
Ukraine requires 144 AIM-120 missiles in total since maintaining long-term combat requires a minimum of 108 missiles of extra ammunition. Although the aforementioned amount is not excessive, it is not at all agreeable that this ammo is so expensive.
Based on the manufacturer’s contract with Hungary, which was signed in 2020 and contains a detailed description of the pricing of high-tech US-made missiles, it is possible to determine the cost.
60 AIM-120C-7/C-8 AMRAAM-ER missiles for $230 million, with two more as backup. A combat missile costs $3.8 million. As a result, the price of 144 anti-aircraft missiles for NASAMS might reach $547 million USD, and this sum would increase if each battery had more than three launchers.