Densest missile network of S-300/Buk is about to be blocked
KYIV ($1=36.90 Ukrainian Hryvnias) — Besides Russia, another European country has a very well-built network of air defense systems. This is Ukraine. Before the war, Ukraine had the densest missile network in the world, built from the combined interaction of the S-300 and BUK. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that on February 24, the Russian armed forces invaded Ukraine, and a war has been going on in Europe for nine months.
- US Patriot SAM joins the war, to fight Russian fighter jets
- Hundreds of T-90M tanks sent to the eastern Ukrainian front line
- Ukraine gets two PzH 2000 SPHs with new software and ballistics
The S-300 and Buk air defense systems in the inventory of the Ukrainian army are outdated Soviet models. Both systems have modifications and much better options than the Ukrainian ones, but they are currently in service only in Russia and Belarus. At the beginning of the war, to support the S-300 and Buk, Ukraine’s partners emptied their warehouses, supplying Kyiv with the Soviet Igla man-portable anti-aircraft missile systems and their American equivalent, the Stinger.
However, Ukraine can no longer rely on the S-300 and Buk as it did in recent months. The only supplier of missiles for the S-300 and Buk is Russia. Logically, Russia will not deliver these missiles at the moment, and Kyiv’s partners cannot find a guaranteed supplier. Thus, the densest missile network of air defense systems in the world remains blocked due to a lack of ammunition. Ukraine has an impossibility in providing ammunition for the systems, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Colonel Yuri Ignat also told a Financial Times journalist.
The Ukrainian models of the S-300 and Buk air defense systems have not been produced for decades. There is difficulty in supplying ammunition due to the possible undermining of the defenses of other countries that have the same systems. I.e. both Buk and S-300 fire two missiles one after the other when in the process of intercepting an enemy target. This means that if other countries agree to supply missiles from their inventory, their air defense capabilities will be seriously compromised, as Russia will not supply them with the expended quantity.
This claim is supported by the delivery of Slovakia. This European country provided both its S-300s and the inventory of munitions servicing the S-300 systems. But supplies were limited, completely insufficient, and Slovakia is gone. I.e. if there is ammunition for the S-300 somewhere in Europe, they will also not be many and will not be replenished.
Of course, this problem is well known to Ukraine’s allies. It explains the delivery of the German IRIS-T SLM infrared-guided missile as well as the Gepard mobile air defense systems. But neither Cheetah nor IRIS-T can compare with S-300 and Buk. The closest air defense system to the S-300 is the American Patriot. But experts do not expect the Patriot to perform any better than the S-300s, which have already suffered many losses in the war. Patriot has come under a lot of criticism in recent months, especially in the Middle East region, where Iranian drones and missiles have hit oil facilities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia several times.
However, perhaps the impending exhaustion and deadlock of the S-300/Buk network is the main reason why the document for the delivery of US Patriot systems to Ukraine is only awaiting the signature of US President Mr. Joe Biden. BulgarianMilitary.com reported earlier that Washington is ready to provide Patriot to Kyiv. There were similar inviting comments from Poland in recent weeks, when it was revealed that, with the agreement of the US, Germany would deliver the Patriot to Poland to ensure the security of the airspace of a NATO member state.
The US and its allies are supplying Ukraine with single units of outdated air defense systems. They are not enough for Ukraine to deal with Russian missile strikes. If Russian missile strikes continue, Ukraine’s crippled air defense network and its inability to protect the skies from the Russians, as well as the continued destruction of critical, key, and energy infrastructure sites in the country, could force Ukrainians to leave some of the country’s major cities.
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