Deliveries of a new package of advanced air defense missiles to Ukraine have begun, rounding off a landmark year for the UK's support to Ukraine – the UK was the first country to provide modern Western tanks and long-range precision strike capabilities. The delivery comes as Russia continues its attack on Ukraine. Hundreds of drones and missiles were said to have been fired overnight at cities such as Kiev, Lviv and Odessa.
The package of around 200 air defense missiles will replenish the air defense systems developed in the UK and delivered to Ukraine in late 2022, strengthening Ukraine's critical air defense capability to protect its citizens, front line and critical national infrastructure from Russian bombing and a-kind and Way to attack drones.
The new support package comes in the most significant year yet for Britain's military aid to Ukraine. Following announcements by the Prime Minister earlier this year, the UK has now deployed a squadron of combat-ready Challenger 2 tanks, three batteries of AS90 self-propelled guns, hundreds of armored and protected vehicles, as well as long-range precision strike capability in the form of Storm Shadow cruise missiles and long-range attack drones.
Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said:
Putin's latest wave of murderous airstrikes is a desperate and futile attempt to regain momentum after the catastrophic loss of hundreds of thousands of conscripts and before the humiliation of his three-day war, which is entering a third calendar year.
We continue to stand with Ukraine's defense, which is why today we are deploying hundreds of anti-aircraft missiles to replenish Britain's highly capable air defense systems, capable of defeating Russian drones and missiles with incredible accuracy.
Putin is testing Ukraine's defenses and the West's resolve, hoping he can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But he's wrong. Ukraine's degradation of Russia's Black Sea Fleet showed that it is still in the fight for victory. And today's air defense package sends an undeniable message, in the face of Russian barbarism, that the UK remains fully committed to supporting Ukraine.
Now is the time for the free world to come together and redouble our efforts to give Ukraine what it needs to win.
These air defense missiles (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles – ASRAAM) are manufactured in the UK by defense contractor MBDA and are designed to shoot down aircraft such as the UK's Typhoon and F-35 fighter jets. In the summer of 2022, a joint MoD and MBDA team developed air defense systems to fire ASRAAM from the ground for the first time. Within four months of the start of the surface-launched ASRAAM project, these air defense systems were developed, manufactured, tested on British soil and Ukrainian crews trained in their use before being transferred into Ukrainian hands.
The surface-launched ASRAAM project has demonstrated the best of British engineering acumen and the agility of the Ministry of Defense and UK industry to quickly deliver highly effective yet cost-effective solutions to the front line to meet urgent requirements. The systems have proven to be extremely effective – with a success rate of up to 90% against some Russian air targets. Ukrainian operators have adapted to their use and demanded more missiles to protect their country.
In addition to the thousands of rounds of ammunition and anti-tank missiles provided by the United Kingdom to Ukraine, 30,000 recruits underwent Operation Interflex – the training program for Ukrainian recruits on British soil – in November.
Including the specialist training provided by the UK to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, such as: The UK has now trained more than 53,000 Ukrainians since Putin first ordered the invasion of Crimea in 2014, such as training Ukrainian marines, explosive ordnance disposal experts and fighter pilots. The Defense Minister had previously announced that he would train an additional 10,000 recruits in the first half of 2024.
A total of £4.6 billion has been allocated for UK military support to Ukraine, with the £2.3 billion budgeted for FY23/24 covered by the end of the financial year. The Prime Minister has expressed his intention to continue support for Ukraine in 2024.