The systems will hardly make any groundbreaking contribution, as the Kiev regime already operates longer-range SAMs.
Written by Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst
In late February, the Kiev regime was in possession of one of the largest and most advanced air defense networks in Europe, if not the world. After the Soviet Union’s dismantlement in late 1991, Ukraine inherited approximately 30% of the Soviet military, the largest and the most powerful conventional military force in the world at that point. This provided the then-newly independent country with an extensive air defense network that survived decades of corruption, mismanagement and lack of proper maintenance. After the Western-backed Neo-Nazi coup in 2014, NATO provided billions of dollars’ worth of “military aid” which restored and modernized most of Ukraine’s Soviet-era air defense systems. Still, when Russia launched its special military operation, these SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems failed to produce the desired result.
The number of downed Russian military aircraft was much lower than initially expected. The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) launched hundreds of successful SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) missions, destroying most of the radars and launch sites operated by the Kiev regime forces. Hundreds of variants of older, albeit modernized systems such as the S-300, Buk, Osa, Strela-10, etc. have been destroyed, effectively leaving the Kiev regime without mid to long-range air defenses. As proven by Russia’s recent missile strikes, this has made the Neo-Nazi junta especially vulnerable and unable to protect its critical military infrastructure. In order to tackle this issue, NATO member states have been promising to deliver modern SAM systems. This includes the NASAMS (joint US-Norwegian project) and the German-built Iris-T.
During a “Face the Nation” interview with Volodymyr Zelensky that aired Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, on CBS, the Kiev regime frontman confirmed that the NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) has been transferred to the Neo-Nazi junta forces:
“Zelensky thanked the U.S. for the system as well as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems it’s received, but added that his troops absolutely need the United States to show leadership and give Ukraine additional air defense systems it has requested.”
According to The Hill, the Biden administration approved the shipment of six missile systems in late August as part of a nearly $3 billion “lethal aid package”. NASAMS is considered a medium-range system capable of defending against drones, aircraft and cruise missiles at a range of up to 50 km.
Recently, the German Ministry of Defense announced the delivery of at least four Iris-T SL air defense systems to the Kiev regime forces. A military convoy was spotted in the vicinity of the city of Katowice in southern Poland. Reports indicate that it was heading from Germany toward Ukraine. At least three German IRIS-T SLS (the short-range version) SAM systems are seen in the photos that were taken at night. The decision to supply the system was considered back in May, but was postponed several times.
According to the German media, the final decision to send the weapons to the Kiev regime was made on October 10, immediately after Russian missile and UAV strikes hit dozens of critical military targets across Ukraine.
“Russia’s missile strikes on targets in Ukraine show the importance of the early transfer of air defense systems to Kiev,” Defense Minister Kristine Lambrecht said.
However, the timing indicates that the decision to send the IRIS-T SLS was taken much earlier. Still, the Kiev regime doesn’t seem to be content with the current version of this SAM system, as its engagement range of only 12 km is considered subpar. Recent reports indicate that the Neo-Nazi junta is trying to acquire the IRIS-T SLM version, which has an engagement range of approximately 40 km. German media think this variant could be sent to the Kiev regime forces in November if the decision is confirmed by the German MoD. Regardless of what Germany decides, the system will hardly make any groundbreaking contribution, as the Kiev regime already operates longer-range SAM systems.
The primary downsides of the IRIS-T SL are its limited range and the infrared-based guidance system which makes it vulnerable to active counter-measures like flares. They are also unlikely to provide any new capability, as the Neo-Nazi junta forces are already using mid to long-range SAM systems like the aforementioned S-300 and Buk, most of which have been neutralized. What’s more likely is that the German military is providing the air defense systems to test them in combat, particularly in a situation where the enemy has air dominance. Western powers have been sending thousands of short-range air defense systems to the Kiev regime forces even before Russia launched its counteroffensive against NATO’s crawling encroachment on its borders.
So far, NATO countries have sent thousands of MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems), but their impact doesn’t go beyond the tactical level. However, most countries of the political West lack mid to long-range SAM systems which could replace the Kiev regime’s losses, as such systems have never been the focus of the Western style of warfare which is based on the concept of air dominance. Thus, even the somewhat longer-range NASAMS, which uses more advanced radar-guided missiles, is extremely unlikely to hurt Russian forces. This is especially true when it comes to Russian missiles, both low-flying subsonic cruise missiles such as the now-legendary “Kalibr” and the high-flying hypersonic missiles like the “Iskander” or “Kinzhal”. The latter is capable of speeds in excess of Mach 12 (approximately 4 km per second), making it virtually impossible to intercept by any means at NATO’s disposal.
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