The United States President, under the advice of the United States Military, and in direct response to Ukraine’s request for assistance in cruise missile defense for its Capital, Kiev, and the protection of its critical assets against overwhelming Russian cruise missile attacks, is procuring the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS). The President has previously allocated funds in May of 2022 to supply Ukraine with two NASAMS Firing Units systems in addition to last week’s pledge of six more NASAMS Fire Units.
Out of all the United States’ current Missile Defense systems available, including the U.S. Army Patriot – Patriot 2 and Patriot 3, Iron Dome, and CRAM, the President chose to supply Ukraine with the cruise missile defense system that is currently defending the United States National Capital Region (NCR)- NASAMS. The NASAMS system is also deployed operationally in Norway, in Spain, in the Netherlands, Lithuania, and in Finland, with Hungary forthcoming, on the European Continent. The NASAMS uses the same interceptor missiles that the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and the United States Marines use on their fighter aircraft – F-15s, F 16s F-18s, F35s, F22s. Our nation’s Allies also use the interceptor on the Euro Fighter and Gripen. Common interceptors that have been fired and tested over 5,000 times, the AIM-120 and AIM-9X, have superbly evolved counter measures, proven reliability, and the capability against maneuvering air threats from Class 3 to Class 5. Over 35,000 interceptors have been produced, and continue to be produced, consistently evolving our Allied air and land-based platforms.
The NASAMS firing unit is made up of one Fire Distribution Center (FDC) for command & control, one radar, and 3 to 4 Launchers that hold 6 interceptors each and can be distributed some distance away from the FDC. These Fire Units are mobile and have the capability to move right after firing and can be assembled quickly. A NASAMS unit can be mobilized on two C-130s rather than on multiple flights on the much bigger transport C-17s and C-5s that the Patriot and THAAD have to do to be mobilized expeditiously. There is also now a choice in interceptors, with an AIM-9X, shorter-range interceptor with an infrared seeker, and the previously mentioned AIM-120, a longer-range interceptor with its own radar. An extended range ER, with a larger diameter to carry more solid rocket propellent, increasing its speed by 50% and altitude by 70%, is close to final development and could be added to NASAMS Fire Units. These are being flight tested together in order to demonstrate these three types of effectors in a layered defensive capability. These interceptors/effectors costs (especially the AIM-9X) are significantly less than current Patriot Interceptors, which are capable of Ballistic Missile Defense and highly sophisticated maneuverable cruise missile defense.
The NASAMS is a layered system which would fully integrate, and communicate, into other layered defenses as is proven daily on U.S. networks with the Joint Air Defense Operations Center JADOC that is defending Washington D.C. today. The NCR system was operated with an Overhead Long Range Persistent 360-degree sensors- the JLENS– which provided improved early warning, tracking, and fire-control solutions for low flying maneuvering cruise missiles. Israel, a country that is also under cruise missile threats uses a similar overhead persistent sensor (dirigible) today to best defend themselves.
We should be asking ourselves, if NASAMS is good enough to defend Ukraine, and our own National Capital, should we not also use it to defend Guam and key critical areas of the U.S. homeland against cruise missile attack? NASAMS is the most efficient and cost-effective cruise missile defense option available today to defend the high value NATO supply depots in Europe. The best cruise missile defense today to defend High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) is NASAMS. The best cruise missile defense today to defend Ramstein Air Base in Germany, is NASAMS.
NASAMS is not a Program of Record. NASAMS is the President of the United States Program of Record for Cruise Missile Defense of Ukraine.