According to the United States Department of Defense, Raytheon Missiles and Defense [RTX] was awarded a $1.2 billion contract on November 30 to supply Ukraine with six batteries of the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS).

The United States Army announced on August 24 that the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI)’s fifth package, worth $2.98 billion, would include six NASAMS systems.

Washington has authorized eight NASAMS to help Ukraine thwart Russian missile and drone attacks. As part of the third USAI package, announced in July, the first two NASAMS air defense systems were delivered to Ukraine and put into service in November.

Bill LaPlante, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, said NASAMS is just the latest addition to the vast air defense capabilities the United States is providing Ukraine.

Ukraine’s armed forces and security forces will benefit from NASAMS batteries, training, and logistical support under the terms of a new contract.

The USAI funding allowed the Biden administration to source weapons from the industry instead of existing US military supplies.

According to Doug Bush, the Army’s head of arms acquisition, acquiring weapons has been sped up to clear the backlog of contracts necessary to replenish US arms supplies depleted by military exports to Ukraine.

The Army said it would work to reduce the 24-month time frame for production and delivery of the NASAMS in collaboration with industry partners.

According to the statement, this program exemplifies the US government’s “urgent” approach to restocking its arsenal and obtaining air defense systems for its allies.

The United States and Norway collaborated to create NASAMS, the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System. A mobile command center, radar, sensors, and launchers capable of firing six missiles each are all included.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin boasted to reporters earlier this month that the original NASAMS in Ukraine had a perfect record of preventing Russian missile strikes.

Why is NASAMS important for Ukraine?

NASAMS are ground-based air defense systems that can intercept and destroy aircraft, drones, and cruise missiles.

UKraine NASMAS

Kongsberg, which manufactures NASAMS alongside Raytheon Technologies, says the Norwegian military first used it in 1998. The Pentagon bought it in 2005 to defend Washington, DC.

The land-based launcher can launch affordable fighter aircraft missiles, something US officials thought Ukraine would value. Kyiv’s allies have several missiles.

The military usually classifies this weapon as a medium-range air defense system. It can attack targets farther than the shoulder-fired Stinger missile the Pentagon gave Ukraine.

NASAMS employs ground-launched versions of the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile. AMRAAM receives great power from a warplane but only a small amount from the ground.

It has to ascend and accelerate using the fuel of its rocket engine. Therefore, the range of the system is limited to about 30 kilometers. NASAMS is a point defense system designed to protect high-value targets. It’s stationed all over Washington.

The NASAMS is effective against smaller targets like drones, helicopters, planes, and cruise missiles but not against larger targets like ballistic missiles.

More importantly, NASAMS gives Ukrainian residents a sense of safety and security, which is invaluable beyond its ability to take down Russian planes and drones.

Ian Williams, deputy director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the system would help Kyiv defend critical infrastructure. The missile battery’s launchers can be distributed.

He said that a single battery could not defend everywhere, but it would allow Ukraine to bolster defenses at specific crucial locations, including around power infrastructures, which require protection.

In his EurAsian Times article, military analyst Vijender K Thakur noted that NASAMS is pricey and resembles an American “honey trap,” but the system is intriguing. To secure more assets, Kyiv must maintain investing in the system.

He said that Ukrainian investment in the system would require further investments to safeguard additional assets. This technology will greatly bolster Kyiv’s ability to fend against Russian missile and drone threats.