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US to arm Kiev with Sea Sparrows – Politico

Washington is expected to supply the anti-aircraft munitions to be fitted onto Soviet-made launchers

The US may supply Ukraine with RIM-7 Sea Sparrow short-range anti-aircraft missiles, Politico reported on Thursday, citing unnamed officials. The missiles are expected to be fitted onto Soviet-made Buk launchers in an attempt to mitigate a shortage of munitions for the systems remaining in Kiev’s inventory.

The missiles, developed in the early 1960s, are expected to be included in a new upcoming military aid package to prop up Ukraine in the ongoing conflict with Russia. 

“The package will for the first time include radar-guided Sea Sparrow anti-air missiles, which can be launched from the sea or on land to intercept aircraft or cruise missiles. In a bit of battlefield innovation, the Ukrainian military has managed to tweak its existing Soviet-era Buk launchers to fire the Sea Sparrow,” the outlet wrote, citing “two people familiar with the matter.”

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Politico did not explain how Kiev came up with this “battlefield innovation,” but given that Ukraine has never been in possession of RIM-7 missiles, fitting US-made munitions onto Soviet-made launchers suggests heavy US involvement in such an upgrade. 

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The missiles in question had previously been successfully fitted onto the Kub anti-aircraft launchers, the predecessor of the Buk system, in a collaboration between Raytheon and the Polish defense manufacturer WZU Sa. The upgrade to Soviet-made launchers was first unveiled in the early 2010s. 

The inclusion of unspecified “surface-to-air” missiles in the new massive $3 billion aid package for Ukraine was confirmed by White House officials during a news briefing on Friday. 

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In recent months, Western backers of Kiev have intensified their efforts to bolster Kiev’s anti-aircraft defenses, struggling to deal with a ramped-up bombing campaign against critical Ukrainian infrastructure launched by Moscow in the aftermath of the Crimean Bridge blast. 

Recent deliveries to Ukraine have included US-made short-range NASAMS systems, German IRIS-T air defense systems, while at least one battery of the US Patriot system, the backbone of NATO’s anti-aircraft defense, is expected to be transferred to Kiev in the near future.

January 07, 2023 at 12:21AM
RT

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