Lithuania purchases two NASAMS missile systems to strengthen Ukraine's air defense

Following a contract signed on June 27, 2023, with the Norwegian company Kongsberg, the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense has responded to Ukraine's call for the strengthening of its air defense. As a result, the Ukrainian Armed Forces will benefit from two NASAMS medium-range air defense missile launchers. The value of this acquisition amounts to approximately 9.8 million Euros.
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Launcher unit of NASAMS air defense missile system. (Picture source Lithuania MoD)

In response to Ukraine's call to enhance its air defense, Lithuania has taken action. The Ukrainian Armed Forces will be provided with two NASAMS systems following the signing of a contract with the Norwegian company Kongsberg.

The NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) is a versatile defense system equipped with multi-missile launchers. Each launcher can carry up to six ready-to-fire missiles stored inside protective canisters. The purpose of the NASAMS system is to transport, aim, and launch missiles with different characteristics from a single rail.
In response to the escalating conflict in Ukraine, there is an urgent need to bolster the nation's air defense capabilities as they engage with Russian forces. This is a top priority for the United States and its global allies and partners, who are collectively striving to provide Ukraine with these much-needed resources.

The severity of the situation has been underlined in recent weeks as Russian forces initiated missile attacks against various Ukrainian cities. Targeting both civilians and crucial infrastructural points, these assaults have involved the firing of hundreds of rockets towards Ukraine's major urban centers.

While Ukrainian forces have shown a measure of success in intercepting some of these missiles, the volume and intensity of attacks demonstrate a clear need for stronger air defense capabilities. In light of this, efforts to augment Ukraine's air defense systems are underway, with key international parties actively contributing to this critical endeavor.

The NASAMS launcher is capable of carrying up to six Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and is connected to a Fire Distribution Center (FDC) command post via radio or field wire. It can be deployed up to 25 km away from the FDC and is remotely controlled. The launcher enables multiple simultaneous engagements by firing the six AMRAAM missiles against six different targets in a matter of seconds. The entire system is designed for rapid response, with the capability to fire all missiles against individual targets in less than 15 seconds.

The AMRAAM missile is the primary missile used with NASAMS. NASAMS can also launch AIM-9X Sidewinder and RIM-162 ESSM missiles. The AMRAAM missile has a range of up to 40 km and can engage targets at altitudes of up to 14 km. The NASAMS launcher platform is transportable and can be carried on different types of trucks depending on the army's requirements.

Lithuania will play a role in the delivery of this equipment, as well as its handover to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which is expected to take place within the next three months. The Norwegian Ministry of Defense will also contribute by donating support equipment for the NASAMS missile launch systems. It is worth noting that the Lithuanian Armed Forces also use NASAMS air defense systems.

In addition to the missile launchers, Ukraine will benefit from 10 M113 armored personnel carriers, which will be transferred by Lithuania. A total of 72 of these armored personnel carriers will be provided by Lithuania. Furthermore, Lithuania has ordered 12.5 million rounds of ammunition for Ukraine in 2023, with 2.5 million rounds to be transferred in the near future. Anti-tank ammunition for grenade launchers will also be sent soon. With this newly established aid program, the total value of military assistance provided to Ukraine will exceed half a billion euros.

The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense has also committed to continuing support to Ukraine in the longer term. A military assistance plan of at least 200 million euros is planned for the period 2024-2026, demonstrating Lithuania's commitment to Ukraine's security and defense.

The NASAMS system provides a mobile and effective defense solution, combining advanced missile technology with robust radar and command post capabilities to protect against airborne threats. Therefore, it is an important addition to the protection of Ukrainian airspace, as Ukraine has been seeking to weaken Russian air dominance for months. The arrival of two NASAMS systems is a real asset in this regard.

Defense News June 2023