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US looks to deploy air defense missile systems from Middle East to Ukraine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Raytheon building is shown in San Diego, California, US, June 10, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes has said that the US looks to shift its air defense systems from the Middle East to Ukraine.

The US is working with Middle Eastern countries to move a handful of their air defense systems to Ukraine, Hayes said, Politico reported.

The goal is to send National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) to Ukraine in the next three to six months, the CEO of the giant US weapons manufacturer said in an interview.

The US would then backfill those systems with new NASAMS in the Middle East over the next 24 months, Hayes pointed out.

Hayes said it takes two years to build NASAMS and shifting systems from the Middle East is faster than building them in the US. “Just because it takes 24 months to build, it doesn’t mean it’s going to take 24 months to get in [the] country,” he said.

Since Moscow launched its special military operation in Ukraine in late February, Kiev officials have been pressing the US and its allies to send advanced weapons to fight the Russian troops.

US arms manufacturers, however, have failed to supply the demand due to the huge amount of weapons and ammunition used by Ukrainian forces.

According to an NYT report, both sides of the Ukraine conflict were burning through arms and ammunition at a pace not seen since World War II.

To gain scope, during the war in Afghanistan NATO forces might have fired even 300 artillery rounds a day and had no real worries about air defense. However, Ukraine can fire thousands of rounds daily while remaining hopeless for air defense against missiles and drones.

“A day in Ukraine is a month or more in Afghanistan,” said Camille Grand, a defense expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, who until recently was NATO’s assistant secretary general for defense investment.

In the meantime, the suppliers, namely the US and NATO countries, say supplying Ukraine with the unending demands of Kiev emptied their arsenals.

The United States Army has been speeding up its weapons acquisition processes to refill its military warehouses, pressing the government to take measures to speed up arms production.

With Congress’ support, the arms manufacturers are working to triple domestic production of some military items, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Doug Bush, said in an interview.

South Korean ammo for Ukraine

Last month, the United States announced that it planned to purchase artillery shells from South Korea to supply them to Ukraine.

Citing US officials familiar with the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported that the agreement included the purchase of 100,000 rounds of 155mm cannonballs.

Reuters news agency cited a US official confirming that Washington intended to send the South Korean ammunition to Ukraine. The official said the funds from the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) would be used to purchase the ammunition.


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