US air defence systems may relocate from Middle East to Ukraine

    WORLD  02 December 2022 - 10:23

    The US is working with Middle Eastern countries to move a handful of their air defence systems to Ukraine, according to the CEO of Raytheon Technologies.

    The goal is to send National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems to Ukraine in the next three to six months, CEO Greg Hayes said in an interview, per Politico. The US would then backfill those systems with new NASAMS in the Middle East over the next 24 months.

    “There are NASAMS deployed across the Middle East, and some of our NATO allies and we [the US] are actually working with a couple of Middle Eastern countries that currently employ NASAMS and trying to direct those back up to Ukraine,” Hayes said.

    He noted that shifting systems from the Middle East is faster than building them in the US. “Just because it takes 24 months to build, it doesn’t mean it’s going to take 24 months to get in [the] country,” he said.

    It takes two years to build NASAMS because of the lead time required to buy electronic components and rocket motors, Hayes said.

    The Biden administration would have to approve the arrangement to transfer the air defence systems to Ukraine. A Defense Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Ukrainian officials have spent months lobbying the US to send NASAMS to counter Russian rocket attacks. The systems have a longer range than other air defence equipment Western countries have sent to Ukraine. The first two arrived in early November, and the US promises more are on the way.

    On November 30, the Army awarded a contract worth up to $1.2 billion to deliver six NASAMS to Ukraine by 2025. The deal is part of the fifth Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package and includes training and logistical support.

    Raytheon declined to name the Middle Eastern countries that would send the system, but purchasers in the region are Oman and Qatar, according to Defense Security Cooperation Agency records.

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