Ukraine’s war with Russia is giving NATO countries a chance to test their advanced weaponry on a real battlefield, and they are gaining valuable insights. As a result, the Financial Times reported.

NATO members, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, have been providing weapons and training to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

And the types of weapons they have delivered have become increasingly advanced since the war began, with Ukraine pushing for modern tanks, air defense systems and aircraft.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told the FT that thanks to this, Ukraine’s allies “can really see if their weapons work, how effectively they work and if they need to be improved.”

“For the global military industry, you can’t invent a better-proving ground,” he said.

In May, Reznikov recalled that Ukraine shot down a Russian Kinzhal missile with an American-made Patriot system.

Experts had thought the Patriot was likely capable of shooting down a Kinzhal, the FT reported, but Ukrainian troops were able to prove it. Russia had previously boasted that these missiles were unstoppable.

Since then, more Kinzhal missiles have been shot down over Ukraine. Reznikov claimed that Ukraine was also showing NATO countries how their weaponry could work when used together.

At the same time, he asserted that Russia’s attempts to thwart Ukrainian weaponry with maneuvers such as signal jamming entailed constant updating of technologies such as GPS-guided munitions and drones, again providing valuable learning opportunities.

“The Russians invent a countermeasure, we inform our partners, and they create a new countermeasure against that countermeasure,” Reznikov explained.

Petro Pyatakov, a retired colonel who is now a consultant to the arms industry, told the FT that there was “active interest from Western artillery manufacturers in receiving information from Ukrainian gunners… to eliminate deficiencies.”

He said that the fighting in Ukraine had exposed some problems. “During operations, it has become clear that these systems were not intended for such intense warfare.”

A German defense contractor also told the aforementioned outlet that they had learned “really a lot from the soldiers in Ukraine”, and that as soon as they see something, “they suggest it, and our software engineers sit down to update it.”

For his part, Jack Watling of the London think tank Royal United Services Institute told the FT that the fighting had also provided the West with new information about the operation of Russian weapons.

But he warned that the West “has exposed a lot of its own capabilities to Russia and China, and therefore will have to change the way some of its equipment works to maintain competitive advantage.”

Sinéad Baker