What does US want to arm Ukraine with?

Andrey Kots

The Americans are going to strengthen the air defense of Ukraine with Israeli weapons. According to Politico, the congressmen offered to provide Kiev with the tactical systems “Iron Dome”. The corresponding amendment can be made to the defense bill for 2022. The White House has not yet officially confirmed this. However, it is no secret that the Ukrainian authorities have long been asking Western patrons for modern anti-aircraft missile systems to “counter Russian aggression.” On the prospects of this initiative – in the material RIA Novosti.

Useless purchase

It is expected that the supply of air defense systems to Ukraine will be funded separately and will not be included in the $ 275 million military aid package approved by Congress in March. Journalists claim that Washington will transfer to Kiev two Iron Dome missile systems, which the Pentagon bought from Israel in 2019. They could not be integrated into the new army command and control system due to incongruous software.

The desire of the congressmen to shove an expensive toy somewhere on the side is quite understandable. Why spend money on maintaining a useless air defense system, if you can pass the costs on to others? In addition, the practice of transferring used weapons to Kiev has long been practiced. In particular, Ukraine received two decommissioned patrol boats of the Island project, as well as several dozen Humvi armored vehicles.

“Both parties agree that Ukraine needs to help create a modern and effective air defense system,” a source told Politico. “We can and should do more. as a threat. However, we must increase the defense capability of the ally. However, nothing has been decided yet. The corresponding amendment has yet to be considered by Congress. “

The possibility of providing Kiev with the Iron Dome air defense system was commented on by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Deputy Minister Andriy Rudenko told reporters that “Ukraine’s pumping up of military muscles, especially receiving such massive support from the outside, does not contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict in the southeast of the country.” However, even if the congressmen decide in favor of Kiev, it is unlikely that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will pull the operation of the Israeli complexes, since these are very expensive weapons.

“Golden” complex

The Iron Dome tactical air defense/missile defense system was developed in the 2000s to protect against missiles with a range of four to 70 kilometers. The multipurpose radar determines the trajectory of the target, then the fire control center and three launchers with 20 Tamir interceptor ammunition come into play. Over the years of operation, the “Iron Dome” has established itself as a reliable means of protection – 90 percent of the missiles that hit its range were shot down.

The complex was last used in May against Hamas militants. According to the IDF, virtually all targets that threaten Israeli cities have been destroyed. However, there was a feeling that the Iron Dome was working to the limit. And it is not known how it would have ended if the hot phase had dragged on for another couple of weeks.

Hamas relies on cheap weapons and massive shelling. One homemade Qassam rocket costs about a thousand dollars, a maximum of two. And the price of the Tamir anti-missile is 50-60 thousand dollars. At the same time, for guaranteed destruction of the target, two interceptors are often fired. According to experts, over the 11 days of the war, Israel spent $ 150 million in missiles. Even for a country with a military budget of 20 billion, this is a serious amount. And unaffordable for Ukraine, which spent four times less on defense in 2020.

Kill two birds with one stone

Objective reality does not prevent Ukraine from fantasizing about an overseas miracle weapon. In May, Defense Minister Andrei Taran announced negotiations on the Iron Dome. According to him, “the events in Israel have shown the relevance of the missile defense system.” However, Russia is far from Hamas. And the effectiveness of the Israeli air defense system in a conflict with a much stronger enemy is highly questionable. American experts also agree with this.

“In the confrontation with Russia, the Iron Dome will be able to operate only with limited effectiveness,” said Michael Kofman, an expert at the American Center for Naval Analysis. A few batteries of multiple launch rocket systems are enough. Of course, the Iron Dome will cover the command center or any critical infrastructure, but the Ukrainians are unlikely to be able to maintain its work for a long time.”

As Alexei Leonkov told Sputnik radio, at the moment only Soviet-made air defense systems are at the disposal of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. After breaking ties with Russia, the supply chain for spare parts and ammunition collapsed, Ukrainian air defense systems were not properly maintained. Kiev is now seeking to find a replacement in the West. But unsuccessfully.

In 2018, the head of the Ukrainian Center for Army Research, Conversion and Disarmament, Valentin Badrak, said that several battalions of American Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems would accelerate the country’s entry into NATO. In April 2021, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Andriy Yermak, lamented that the United States was deploying air defense systems in Poland, although “they should be” in Ukraine.

Each time Washington left Kiev’s requests unanswered. However, if Congress approves the transfer of the Iron Dome, the White House could kill two birds with one stone. First, with this beautiful gesture in support of its ally, Washington will slightly improve its damaged image after fleeing Afghanistan. Secondly, it will get rid of unnecessary equipment. In addition, the Americans are confident that the Iron Dome is unlikely to give the Ukrainian Armed Forces a serious advantage on the battlefield, which means that there is no need to fear a tough reaction from Moscow.

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