The U.S. will send two Kongsberg / Raytheon NASAMS Air Defense Systems to Ukraine, U.S. officials say.

The U.S. will send two Kongsberg / Raytheon NASAMS Air Defense Systems to Ukraine, U.S. officials say. Kongsberg

Pentagon to Buy Two Advanced Air Defense Systems for Ukraine

The U.S.-Norway missiles may not be ready for weeks or months, official says.

The Pentagon will send two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems to Ukraine, a weapon that Kyiv has been seeking to defend its population from Russian cruise missiles, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Friday. 

The NASAMS are part of the latest $820 million aid package, which also includes High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, ammunition rounds; up to 150,000 155mm artillery rounds andAN-TPQ37 counter-artillery radars for Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia. 

The Ukrainians have been seeking the U.S.-Norwegian air-defense system, which is superior to their current means of downing incoming cruise missiles, the official said, adding that the weapon will help shift Ukraine away from its Soviet-era S-300 air defenses.

The Raytheon-produced weapon can “identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicle and emerging cruise missile threats,” according to the company’s website. 

This new $850 million aid package, which brings the total U.S. security assistance to $6.9 billion since Russia invaded in February, includes $770 million worth of air defense systems, radars, and 155mm rounds to be purchased from their suppliers, and $50 million in HIMARS rockets to be drawn from Pentagon stocks. But it could take weeks or months to procure those systems, the official said. 

“We are just contracting starting today for this particular Ukraine security assistance initiatives package,” the official said. “We will have more fidelity as we go through the contracting process.” 

The official said it was a priority to get Ukraine more 155mm rounds because U.S.-provided howitzers “are really a staple of the fight in the Donbas,” the official said. 

Ukraine has already received four HIMARS, with additional systems on the way. “We're seeing them having a good deal of success in employing” them to target command posts, the officials said Friday.