WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon on Friday announced $820 million in new Ukraine military aid that includes advanced mid- to long-range air defense systems and counter-artillery radars to respond to Russia’s heavy use of long-range strikes in the war.
The announcement for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, marks the start of a contracting process for $770 million worth of equipment, including four more counter-artillery radars and up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
NASAMS, developed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace as well as American company Raytheon Technologies, marks a shift from the Russian-made air defense systems, like the S-300, that Ukraine had used. The U.S. coordinated donations of Russian-made systems from Ukraine’s neighbors, but maintaining those systems are expected to grow more difficult as Russia’s invasion continues.
“This system, co-produced by Norway and the U.S., is a NATO system, so for us it’s important to start to help the Ukrainians transition their air defense systems from what is a now a Soviet-type system, to introduce some of this modern technology,” a senior defense official said Friday.
Contracts for NASAMS are expected to be finalized within weeks or months, and Ukrainian forces will need to receive training to operate the systems, a senior defense official said.
NASAMS, which is used to guard airspace over the White House and the Pentagon, were exported to Hungary and India in recent years, among other territories.
The new aid also included $50 million worth of ammunition drawn from U.S. stockpiles for American-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems that arrived in Ukraine last week. Ukrainian forces have used the systems successfully against Russian command posts and other targets, the official said.
“What you see is the Ukrainians are actually systematically selecting targets and accurately hitting them, thus providing this precise method of degrading Russian capabilities,” the official said.
The official credited the retreat of Russian forces from Snake Island this week not to Russia’s goodwill, as Moscow claimed, but to Ukrainian forces armed by American Harpoon missiles. The U.S. official confirmed that Ukraine had used Harpoon missiles to take out a Russian supply ship on the Black Sea that was headed to Snake Island.
The U.S. has provided more than $8.8 billion in weapons and other military training to Ukraine, $6.9 billion of it since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.