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Spain to modernize and acquire additional NASAMS air defense missile systems.

| Defense News Army 2024

The Spanish government has announced a €410 million agreement with Norwegian firm Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KONGSBERG) to modernize and acquire additional NASAMS air defense systems. This announcement was made on April 19, 2024, by the Spanish Armaments Directorate, Dirección General de Armamento y Material (DGAM), which also filed a notification of award for the NASAMS modernization program.
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Spanish Army NASAMS launcher unit mounted on a truck at a military parade in Spain. (Picture source Army Recognition Group)

The NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a cutting-edge, medium-range air defense system, developed jointly by KONGSBERG and American defense company Raytheon. Recognized globally for its effectiveness, NASAMS has been a critical component of Spain’s defense strategy, being the first international user with more than two decades of operational experience. Spanish units of NASAMS are notably deployed in the Baltics as part of NATO's Air Shielding Mission.

The modernization program is set to significantly enhance the existing capabilities of Spain’s NASAMS batteries. With eight batteries currently operational, this upgrade is pivotal in maintaining the integrity of national and NATO-aligned air defense.

NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a highly advanced, medium-range air defense system that is co-developed by the Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and the American defense contractor Raytheon. It is designed to protect against a variety of airborne threats including aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. NASAMS works by integrating off-the-shelf technology, including radars, sensors, and missiles, with proprietary command and control systems to create a cohesive and flexible air defense network.

The NASAMS air defense system's core is built around the AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile), which provides the firepower to engage enemy targets at ranges of up to 25 kilometers and altitudes of up to 20 kilometers.

The combat effectiveness of NASAMS is enhanced by its sophisticated sensor suite and radar systems, such as the AN/MPQ-64F1 Sentinel radar, which offers 360-degree coverage and can track multiple targets simultaneously. This radar is linked to a fire distribution center (FDC), which processes the radar data and provides engagement solutions and command and control capabilities. The system's architecture allows for integration with other radar platforms and sensor networks, increasing its adaptability and the breadth of its defensive coverage.

NASAMS is designed to defend against a variety of threats including manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles, and other precision-guided munitions. It can operate in a variety of environments, from densely populated urban areas to remote and rugged terrains, providing both point and area defense. The system is network-centric, enabling real-time data sharing and decision-making across different air defense units within an integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) network. This interoperability is crucial for contemporary combat environments where response time and sensor integration play pivotal roles in the effectiveness of air defense strategies.

This deal not only underlines Spain's commitment to upgrading its military capabilities but also strengthens the strategic cooperation between Spain and Norway. The formal contract for this procurement and modernization effort is slated to be signed in May 2024.

The expansion of Spain's air defense capabilities comes at a time when NATO nations are increasingly investing in collective security measures. Spain’s initiative is also part of a broader trend among 13 NATO and partner nations that have integrated NASAMS into their national defense arsenals, showcasing the system’s widespread adoption and trust among alliance members.

Defense News April 2024

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