Western efforts to increase Ukraine’s air defense power meet obstacles

Russia’s air strikes in Ukraine, most recently with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, show that systems like the Patriot and S-300 may not be enough to counter Moscow’s arsenal.

To avoid a direct confrontation with Russia, US Vice President Joe Biden has promised to give Ukraine with air defence systems that are more capable than the Stinger man-portable missile. However, locating the incredibly powerful anti-aircraft systems that the Ukrainian army desperately requires is proving difficult.

Anti-aircraft batteries on wheels, such as the Patriot, are an excellent choice. Recent military engagements in Iraq and the Persian Gulf have shown its defensive effectiveness.

However, it is unclear if the US-built system will be able to defend against Russia’s most recent missiles.

On March 19, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it had destroyed an underground weapons store in western Ukraine using Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time the day before.

Patriot is a transportable truck-mounted radar system capable of automatically identifying and intercepting targets like as planes, drones, and missiles within a 100-kilometer radius. The system also includes a three-person monitoring station and a missile interceptor.

Hypersonic missiles, on the other hand, go far faster than regular cruise missiles. In addition, the Ukrainian military is currently unprepared to deal with the advanced American Patriot system.

Ukraine’s soldiers, on the other hand, are now familiar with the S-300 air defence system, which is the Soviet Union’s first-generation counterpart to the US Patriot and has a shorter range but is capable of protecting two cities close the Russian border: Kharkiv and Kyiv (Kiev). Former Soviet bloc countries like as Slovakia and Bulgaria, where US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently visited, might deliver these S-300s.

However, because those countries still rely on the S-300 for protection, they requested a replacement, notably the Patriot, before giving them over to Ukraine.

“When we have an appropriate replacement, we will do so swiftly,” Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad told reporters after meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Bratislava on March 17.

In response to the aforesaid request, the Netherlands announced the deployment of one Patriot battery to the Sliac military installation in central Slovakia, while Germany confirmed the deployment of two additional batteries to Slovakia. This step may make it easier for Slovakia to hand over its sole S-300 complex to Ukraine.

Weapons from Germany and the Netherlands, on the other hand, will not be arriving in Slovakia anytime soon. The Netherlands is due to give over on April 15, at the earliest, while Kiev is in a state of “boiling fire.”

even though some countries may be willing to provide S-300 backup missiles to Kiev, Ukraine still needs a lot of complete systems, including radars and monitoring stations.

Mr. Brent Eastwood, a military expert at the 1945 electronic magazine specializing in foreign policy, said that a S-300 S-300 from Slovakia is not enough to energize Kiev.

Ukraine had about 100 S-300 batteries before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military operation last month. And the Russian military claims to have destroyed about 40 guns right at the beginning of the operation. According to Mr. Eastwood, Ukraine is a large country and only defending one city requires a lot of defensive weapons.

Greece, another North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member state, also has the S-300, but it also needs Patriot supplies instead. Even if the Pentagon, with its relatively limited Patriot inventory, decided to lend Patriots to these countries, it would take several weeks for them to arrive.

Washington is trying to convince allies in other regions to lend weapons, but again, it’s not that simple. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley may have asked Japan for help when he spoke by phone with his Japanese counterpart last week. The two men discussed the current security environment in the Pacific and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

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