Does Norway’s NASAMS help Ukraine improve its defenses?

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Norway’s NASAMS air defense missile system, whose performance is superior to similar-class weapons, will only be able to provide good protection to Ukraine if it is deployed in large numbers. 

To guard important facilities like the White House, the US has invested in a secret weapon that can perform the task of guarding the area’s airspace in all weather conditions. It is surprising that now, the US has come up with the idea of ​​​​aiding this type of weapon, to support Ukraine.

The current Russia-Ukraine conflict is continuing to develop fiercely, and the Ukrainian side is still losing its air superiority. On the other hand, Russia has further expanded its attacks with long-range precision strike weapons.

This has made Ukraine, which lacks the support of anti-aircraft weapons, to make the situation worse. Based on this, the President of Ukraine Zelensky very much wants modern anti-aircraft weapons to strengthen defenses.

Among the weapons that Ukraine hopes to have, it is the NASAMS air defense missile system. This is an advanced short and medium-range air defense missile system; NASAMS was developed in Norway, a Nordic country and it is one of the world famous weapons of this country.

NASAMS air defense system use air-to-air missiles using the missile’s own radar or infrared guidance, such as the AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missile or the AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile.

Thus, the NASAMS air defense system uses air-to-air missiles, but is launched from the ground; and in fact, Norway owns very few components of this air defense system, but most parts of this system mainly comes from the US and the cost of missiles used for the NASAMS system is also very expensive, so it is impossible to equip this system in large quantities.

For example, the AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missile, guided by the missile’s own active radar, can be carried out by the “launch and forget” method. When launched from a fighter jet, the AIM-120 usually achieves optimum speed and altitude; making it the most dangerous air-to-air weapon of the US Air Force.

But when launched from the ground, the AIM-120 missile has a very limited range, because it takes a lot of energy to propel the missile up and accelerate, causing the rocket engine of this missile to consume more fuel. Therefore, the operating range is limited to about 30km; far behind when launched from the air, has a range of up to 120 km.

NASAMS air defense systems are typically deployed to protect critical targets and critical infrastructure; The US military identified it as a close-in air defense system. NASAMS can destroy aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

According to some information, the latest missile of the NASAMS air defense system, is capable of destroying targets at a distance of up to 160 km. Currently, the US has not revealed which version of NASAMS will be aided to Ukraine.

According to experts, the entire Ukrainian airspace will hardly be fully protected by air defense systems like NASAMS, because the cost of these missiles is very expensive. But only a handful of NASAMS air defense systems, stationed in key locations, will allow Ukraine to prevent attacks on key areas.

The NASAMS air defense system is equipped with a three-dimensional (3D) reconnaissance radar, which can perform search and target identification with high accuracy. From a global point of view, the technology of this air defense system is at the forefront of similar equipment and its performance is respectable.

The radar of the NASAMS air defense system, which is said to be able to conduct comprehensive 360-degree surveillance, enemy’s air attack movements and can detect various targets such as fighter aircraft and missiles.

According to the analysis of military experts, the reason the US ordered a large number of NASAMS air defense systems comes for two reasons. First, the US Army has long not produced short-range missiles, but only man-portable missiles like the Stinger; so they had to buy NASAMS to fix it.

Second, all missiles of the NASAMS system are manufactured in the US and the software for this system is also developed by the US company Boeing; so although it is known as a Norwegian weapon, it is actually American-made.

The question is, will the NASAMS air defense system be able to show its capabilities in the Ukraine battlefield? According to experts, this is not difficult to predict, when the targets that the NASAMS system has to deal with are cruise missiles and Russian Shahed-136 suicide drones.

Both the cruise missile and the Russian Shahed-136 suicide UAV are capable of terrain tracking at extremely low altitudes. If NASAMS is in the US, it is supported by intelligence from early warning aircraft, via the Link-16 tactical-grade data link, without the need for surveillance radar. But this condition in Ukraine is not there.

Remember, in the missile and UAV raid on the two largest oil refining centers of Saudi Arabia in 2019, an entire air defense system worth hundreds of billions of dollars, originating from the US and Europe, was destroyed, they were powerless to not detect these weapons, let them destroy two oil refineries worth billions of dollars.

So, the NASAMS air defense system can play a big role for a small country, but it will be like “salt out of the sea” for a country with a large territory like Ukraine.

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