Why does Ukraine want to acquire the 60-year-old MIM-23 Hawk air defence system?

Despite being a 60-year-old NATO air defence system, the MIM-23 Hawk’s most significant advantage—its abundance—can still help Ukraine’s defences.

The 60-year-old MIM 23 Hawk air defence system, which has been retired by several NATO countries but may really play a crucial role in preserving sky security, has just been requested by Ukraine in order to bolster its defensive capabilities. Following the completion of the Ramstein-6 summit, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the announcement about this request from Ukraine. Prior to now, Ukraine had expressed interest in receiving a system similar to the MIM 104 Patriot, which is currently being used in battle by the US and several other NATO nations, costs around $1 billion per battery, and is exempt from the surplus weapons clause.

A MIM-23 hawk functioned as the major air defence system for the US and NATO countries for nearly the entire Cold War. These air defence complexes have been manufactured in considerable numbers and used in numerous nations. Even though the US decommissioned this complex in the 1990s, the MIM-23 is still present in more than 20 countries’ operational components.

The MIM-23 Hawk has been in service since 1960, during which time it has undergone four major modernizations, the last of which took place in the 1990s.The most recent extensive modernization of this air defense missile complex includes the digitization of the control system, which gives the ability to simultaneously intercept several targets and destroy low-flying objects.Thanks to the “computerization” of the MIM-23 Hawk, this classic air defense system really evolved to a new level, this version is called the Hawk XXI, which is still in use by the Turkish Army.A very valuable change is the integration of the modern AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar, which is also used in the modern NASAMS air defense system, in addition to the general digitization of all equipment of the complex.

At the same time, the complex’s firepower continued to rely on the MIM-23 anti aircraft missile, which was continuously updated and modernized until the mid 1990s. The current configuration of the radar fitted to the MIM-23 Hawk is extremely unpredictable, the only parameters related to the system’s combat capabilities are in the interceptor missile.

The system has a missile speed of Mach 2.4, a maximum height of 20 km, and a target destruction range of up to 45–50 km. A semi-active probe directs the interceptor to the target. But the most important advantage of this air defense complex is that more than 40,000 missiles have been produced, which means that the supply of ammunition for the needs of the Ukrainian Army is very abundant. At the same time, the obvious drawback of the MIM-23 Hawk is that it has been decommissioned and put into a sealed state. This fact means that it is necessary to carry out conservation and restoration of weapons.

In addition, the older the Hawk system, the more difficult it is to restore and maintain. For example, the 1970 version of the MIM-23 received improvements including: AN/MPQ-46 irradiation radar, AN/MPQ-50 sighting radar, AN/MPQ-51 rangefinder, target detection radar low range target AN/MPQ-48. There is also an information processing station and command post AN/TSW-8, forward radar station AN/MPQ-48, control tower AN/MSW-11, and M192 launchers with 3 anti-aircraft missiles, The above technology is quite outdated and needs a lot of work to upgrade.

Meanwhile, the Hawk XXI version is integrated with a command post, AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel observation radar. AN/MPQ-62 low-altitude radar, one or two AN/MPQ-61 irradiation radars and a number of platforms launch. Note that the number of targets that can be fired at the same time depends on the number of irradiated radars.

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