The United States has given Ukraine the most advanced anti-air defense systems to date, after President Biden in a phone call with Ukraine’s Volodymy Zelensky vowed to expedite shipments of NASAMS. Already Ukraine has been receiving the HIMARS – a 1990’s era light multiple rocket launcher, but Kiev has repeatedly asked for more sophisticated anti-air missiles, including from Israel.

Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes has confirmed in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that it delivered two of the NASAMS systems to the US government this month, which were subsequently transferred and are being set up for use by Ukrainian forces. 

“We did just deliver two NASAMS systems… We delivered two of them to the government a couple of weeks ago. They’re being installed in Ukraine [imminently],” Hayes said.

“It is a short-range air defense system, and it can fire [an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile] and it could knock down everything in the sky from drones to ballistic missiles to fighter jets,” the Raytheon CEO detailed. 

The surface-to-air system is produced by Raytheon in partnership with Norwegian defense company Kongsberg, and is considered a mid-range system, but can be outfitted with longer range missiles. 

“We’re also seeing significant global demand for advanced air defense systems, especially in Eastern Europe, as the Russians and Ukraine conflict unfortunately continues,” Hayes added in the CNBC interview. 

The NASAMS is used by the military to protect federal buildings and the White House in Washington D.C. from any inbound aerial threats, and is capable of intercepting even very low flying projectiles. The first foreign country to purchase the sophisticated system was Qatar in 2019. 

Ukraine said that when it puts the NASAMS into operation, this will mark a “new era of air defense” for the country. President Zelensky told a summit of Group of Seven leaders last week, “When Ukraine receives a sufficient quantity of modern and effective air defence systems, the key element of Russia’s terror — rocket strikes — will cease to work.”

Each unit costs $23 million according to the US Department of Defense. “Systems will be provided as fast as we can physically get them there,” Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said two weeks ago. “We’re going to do everything we can, as fast as we can, to help the Ukrainian forces get the capability they need to protect the Ukrainian people.” This was in reference to Russia having stepped up the intensity of its aerial attacks, especially targeting and degrading Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. 

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