NASAMS batteries ‘lock’ the sky above Kyiv, but there are skeptics

PANAGYURISHTE ($1=1.96 Bulgarian Levs) — Certainly, the most advanced weapon that Ukraine can get since the beginning of the Russian invasion is the NASAMS anti-aircraft missile system. One is already deployed over Kyiv, as we noted at the end of September. Kyiv expects two more, but there is a problem here – they will not arrive now, but sometime in 2024.

US allowed Kuwait to acquire NASAMS in a multi-billion dollar deal
Photo credit: Blitz.bg

However, experts began to make their assumptions. Roman Svitan, a military expert, claims that two NASAMS batteries are enough to lock down the skies above Kyiv. Bulgarianmilitary.com recalls that in the past two weeks, Kyiv, as well as other larger Ukrainian cities, were subjected to massive Russian strikes by kamikaze drones and cruise missiles.

Svitan defends his point by saying that NASAMS is armed with AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missiles adapted for launch from a land-based system. Their integration, according to experts in the field, was thanks to special tubes placed in NASAMS. The AIM-120 is used by fighter pilots to shoot down drones as well as aircraft. It is a known fact that the AIM-120 can also handle cruise missiles.

Skeptics, however, are not so quick to extol NASAMS as a game-changing system for Ukraine. There is no information on what missiles will be loaded into the Ukrainian systems. There is a possibility, and quite a large one at that, that the AIM-9X Sidewinder. It is an advanced medium-range air-to-air missile.

The second thesis of the skeptical opinions is the launcher. When the AIM-120 is launched from an aircraft the range of the missile is much greater, the velocity of the missile is much greater, and the missile engine is activated much later. If this missile is launched from a ground-based launcher, the missile loses momentum in flight, meaning that its speed will depend solely on its own engine. This reduces the range.

Thus, a medium-range missile can become a short-range missile. Some say that an AIM-120 launched from HIMARS will hit up to 30 km. For the average reader, 30 km is a long distance, but in defense, it is insufficient to carry out a zone defense.

Another hidden fact should be noted. NASAMS is a very good anti-aircraft missile air system. That’s why it’s part of the White House defense. But NASAMS, by its functional nature, was designed to protect high-value targets. However, will this missile system be effective against a multi-layered attack on several infrastructural objects in Kyiv? Because at the moment, in addition to the location of Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky, high-value objects are several command posts, several communication units, several ground stations for the return transfer of data from NATO drones, etc.

AIM-120-AMRAAM---Advanced-Medium-Range-Air-to-Air-Missile-1

It also remains an open question whether NASAMS will be able to handle a hypersonic missile. Let’s not forget one fact at the moment – no air defense system in the world can intercept and destroy a hypersonic missile. Neither Russia has one, the US, nor China. However, spreading the claim that NASAMS intercepts hypersonic missiles is highly misleading and should not create a false impression of the system.

NASAMS is now a good air defense system. For spot kicks, it will most likely do without problems. It is not yet known what exact modification the Ukrainians will receive. Some believe it could be NASAMS-II.

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