One of the more widely used air defense systems in NATO countries is the National Advanced Surface-to-Air System or NASAMS. The system is owned by 12 countries for homeland defense and for integrated air defense capability. The NASAMS are used to identify, engage, and destroy aircraft, cruise missiles, and drones.
The NASAMS reached an operational capability in 1994 and was first deployed by the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The short- to medium-range system can engage targets beyond visual range. It is armed with three launchers, each carrying up to six missiles. It is a reloadable system. There are three primary components of the NASAMS – the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel Radar, the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), and the Fire Distribution Center (FDC). The missile launchers can be positioned as much as 20 kilometers away and can be dispersed providing an extended area coverage.
The Department of Defense announced in July 2022 that it would supply two NASAMS to Ukraine for its air defense mission. It was announced in August 2022 that a total of eight NASAMS would be sent to Ukraine. The first system arrived in Ukraine in early November. Currently two of the systems are operational in Ukraine. The DoD has awarded a $1.2 billion contract for the manufacture of the six NASAMS; however, there may be a two-year wait for the production to be completed. The United States is attempting to persuade NATO and Middle Eastern nations to send some of their NASAMS to Ukraine. This would avoid the two-year wait for the six additional NASAMS to be manufactured.
The NASAMS has performed very well in Ukraine. On the first two days it was deployed the system shot down 25 incoming missiles with 25 interceptors. The Norwegian military provided the initial training of the Ukrainian operators. Yet to come is the training on how to do the maintenance and repair work. Since it is a complicated system, so maintenance will need to be done outside of Ukraine.
National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), Congressional Research Service, CRS IF12230, December 1, 2022, PDF, 3 pages.
“US Trying to Persuade More Allies to Send NASAMS Missiles to Ukraine, Raytheon CEO Says”, by Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One, December 1, 2022.
Photo: National Air Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS). Photo Raytheon Missile & Defense.