Curious Case Of NASAMS! Lithuania To Buy Air Defense Systems For Ukraine, From Norway To Defend ‘Civilian’ Infra

Lithuania has announced that it is procuring two Norwegian-made National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) medium-range air defense launchers for Ukraine. 

On June 28, the country’s Ministry of Defense said that the delivery of these launchers is scheduled to be completed within three months.

According to a statement from the ministry, Lithuania’s decision to procure the air defense launchers for Ukraine was prompted by an urgent request from the embattled country. 

The request was made in light of Russia reportedly targeting military and civilian infrastructure. Lithuania aims to assist Ukraine in strengthening its air defenses in response to these threats.

The contract was signed on June 27 between Lithuania, Norway, and the Norwegian manufacturer, Kongsberg Gruppen. 

Norway will provide maintenance equipment for the ordered launchers as part of the agreement. The total value of the deal, estimated at 9.8 million euros ($10.7 million), includes the cost of these maintenance supplies.

“Two NASAMS rocket launchers of the mid-range air defense system will be fully prepared so that the Ukrainian military can integrate them into existing fire control units, supplementing and expanding the operational capacity of NASAMS systems currently used in Ukraine donated by Norway and the USA. The value of the contract is about 9.8 million euros,” the Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said. 

A Brazil-based defense analyst, Patricia Marins, told EurAsian Times that the announced transfer of two NASAMS launchers to Ukraine “doesn’t change the game too much.”

Marins explained that these launchers are intended to enhance the defense perimeter, as they can be deployed up to 20km from the radar homing head. 

National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System. Image: Forsvarets Mediearkiv/Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace

She pointed out, “Basically, they [launchers] are improving the cruise missile and drone protection since the Russian Aerospace Forces (RuAF) has a limited OP field, and the system doesn’t do well for ballistics.”

Additionally, Marins suggested that the transfer of NASAMS launchers to Ukraine allows the United States to assess and test the integration capabilities, particularly the connectivity and speed of these systems, in a live battlefield scenario. 

Emphasizing the significance of connectivity, she highlighted that it plays a crucial role in reducing reaction time. This move by the US is seen as an opportunity to gather valuable insights and prepare for future military operations.

Currently, the Ukrainian Armed Forces possess two NASAMS air defense systems batteries. Additionally, the United States has ordered six more systems, and Canada has ordered one, which is part of the military aid being provided to Ukraine.

In addition to the air defense systems, Lithuania’s Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas has announced the transfer of ten M113 armored personnel carriers and ammunition to Ukraine. 

With this transfer, the total number of M113 armored personnel carriers provided by Lithuania will reach 72 vehicles.

NASAMS Air Defense System In Ukraine 

The NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) is a ground-based air defense system jointly developed and manufactured by Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace of Norway and Raytheon Technologies Corporation, a prominent aerospace and defense conglomerate in the United States. 

Designed to operate within the short to medium range, NASAMS can engage and neutralize various airborne threats, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), helicopters, cruise missiles, and fixed-wing aircraft.

A complete NASAMS air defense system consists of multiple components: a fire distribution center, radar, electro-optical sensor, launcher, and radar and launcher command and control nodes. 

Since its deployment in Ukraine, NASAMS has reportedly achieved an impressive record in countering Russian missiles, according to US officials. 

On its first two days of deployment, the Ukrainian military successfully intercepted 25 incoming missiles using 25 interceptors, resulting in a remarkable 100 percent success rate. 

File Image: NASAMS

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin affirmed this performance in December 2022, and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated the claim. 

In December 2022, the US official initiated efforts to facilitate an agreement between NATO member countries and nations in the Middle East to provide NASAMS interceptors to Ukraine. 

The NASAMS systems are operated by five NATO members: Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain. 

In the Middle East, Oman and Qatar are among the countries operating this air defense system, as reported by Forecast International. Furthermore, Australia, Chile, Finland, and Indonesia have also adopted the NASAMS system into their defense capabilities. 

Within the US, this air defense system plays a crucial role in safeguarding critical strategic assets like the White House from aerial threats. 

Nonetheless, if the consistently claimed effectiveness of NASAMS in neutralizing Russian missile threats holds, it underscores the system’s role in strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities.