Complimenting NASAMS, Ukraine Urges US For Patriot Defense Systems To Thwart Russian Missile Barrage

Kyiv has yet again requested the US to provide the Patriot missile defense system in response to Russia’s massive missile attacks on Ukraine. 

In a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the US to supply Patriot systems and expedite the delivery of air defense equipment to Ukraine.

Ukrainian foreign minister posted a statement on Twitter, saying, “I thanked the US for its crucial defense assistance and emphasized that deliveries of air defense systems to Ukraine need to be sped up,” he tweeted. 

“NASAMS have proved their efficiency already. I am also convinced that the time for ‘Patriots’ has come,” he added. In response to the onslaught of Russian missile attacks on Ukraine, Kyiv has increased its calls for effective air defense systems.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, on November 16, said that US-provided NASAMS air defense systems had intercepted Russian missiles with 100% success in Ukraine. 

National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System

Ukraine acquired the NASAM systems in early November after its soldiers reportedly obtained operational training in Norway. The system was developed in collaboration with Kongsberg of Norway and Raytheon Technologies of the United States.

Kyiv is now looking to acquire the Patriot air defense system to counter Russia’s missile and kamikaze drone attacks. Ukrainian leaders have requested Patriot systems and other cutting-edge equipment for months following Russia’s full-scale invasion in late February.

The air defense system is at the top of Kyiv’s wishlist, which it sent to Washington.

Why Does Ukraine Want Patriot Systems?

The US has a different standpoint on the issue for multiple reasons. Russia might consider the system’s installation a provocative move by the US. Besides, Ukraine would also face difficulties maintaining and supporting the systems during the conflict.

Supplying Kyiv with the Patriots is difficult due to their relative scarcity. With allies in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific needing their protection, US Army Patriot units are among the most deployed in the service.

In March, a US Department of Defense spokeswoman stated that Washington would not provide Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine because their deployment and operation would require US military personnel. 

Reports indicate that Washington does not want to send Patriots to Ukraine because Moscow may interpret it as direct US involvement in the conflict. However, experts believe that the US may consider providing the defense system as part of a long-term strategy.

The Patriot system would significantly increase Ukraine’s capabilities. Patriot is one of the most advanced multi-mission systems created in the United States for intercepting fixed-wing aircraft, ballistic, or cruise missiles. 

Tom Karako, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Politico that it is a defensive weapon that would make Russian pilots “think twice” before striking Ukrainian forces.

The system is already operated by several countries, including Poland and Romania, and the United States. Compared to Ukraine’s existing air and missile defense systems, Patriot would give Kyiv a critical new defense capability against Russian assaults.

Separately, the system would be an effectively upper-tier complement to the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems or NASAMS. Ukraine is already operating NASAMS to defend against missile and drone attacks. 

A Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor (PAC-3) at launch. According to NORAD., DOD, the US military could deploy Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to protect critical infrastructure in a crisis.

Patriot, in addition to offering a longer-range capability against traditional threats such as fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, can provide Ukraine with a robust ability to defend essential locations from ballistic missile assaults.

The system, particularly in later iterations, was designed to perform against shorter-range ballistic missiles. It has already proved its operational capabilities around the world.

For instance, the Patriot system has been essential in reducing the impact of frequent missile attacks by Houthi rebels on strategic locations in Saudi Arabia. Besides NASAMS, Kyiv has also received I-Hawk air defense systems from western countries. 

That suggests Ukraine wants to create a comprehensive, integrated air defense system. NATO also stated that they are supplying its Ukrainian partners with the required weaponry and that it would keep working together to coordinate the development of a multi-layered air defense system in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, if the Patriot defense system is shipped to Ukraine, the United States would likely enter into a contract with Raytheon to build new systems for Kyiv rather than transferring Patriot batteries that are currently heavily deployed in different parts of the world by the US forces.