United Kingdom to supply anti-tank weapons NLAW and sent troops to Ukraine

According to a statement published by the British Ministry of Defense (MoD), on January 17, 2022, the United Kingdom will supply anti-tank weapons and send troops to Ukraine. This decision was taken by the United Kingdom in response to the deployment of Russian tanks, armored fighting vehicles, rocket artillery, and short-range ballistic missiles along the border with Ukraine.
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British soldiers firing NLAW anti-tank missile during a training exercise whilst deployed on Operation CABRIT in Estonia as part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence. (Picture source British MoD)

Citing a statement published by the British Defence Secretary on January 17, 2022, as of today, tens of thousands of Russian troops are positioned close to the Ukrainian border. Their deployment is not routine, and they are equipped with tanks, armored fighting vehicles, rocket artillery, and short-range ballistic missiles.

We, and our Allies, have legitimate and real cause for concern that the configuration and scale of the force being assembled, supported by Russian air and maritime long-range strike capabilities stationed in the region, could be used for the purpose of conducting a multi-axis invasion of Ukraine.

The British Ministry of Defence already has a longstanding relationship with our Ukrainian counterparts, and we continue to provide support in many areas including security assistance and defence reform.

Since 2015, the United Kingdom has helped to build the resilience and capabilities of the Ukrainian armed forces through Operation ORBITAL, which has trained over 22,000 Ukrainian troops. And we maintain the right to deliver bilateral support to a sovereign nation when requested, in areas that will better help them defend themselves.

The United Kingdom has taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light, anti-armor, defensive weapon systems. A small number of UK personnel will also provide early-stage training for a short period of time, within the framework of Operation ORBITAL, before then returning to the United Kingdom.

The British defense minister did not specify the type of anti-tank weapon that will be delivered to Ukraine but according to the Newspaper "The Sun", it could be the NLAW (Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapon) which is also in service with the British Army and produced by the Swedish company SAAB.

The NLAW was primarily designed to defeat main battle tanks or armored vehicles in close combat battle and it can be also used to attack defended positions such as bunkers. This type of weapon is also capable to be fired from within buildings in case of warfare in urban areas.

The NLAW is a man-portable and single-use anti-tank weapon system that fires a missile fitted with a powerful 150 mm High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead able to destroy main battle tanks and it has an effective from 20 to 600 meters, which is well covering the need for an individual soldier's combat range. The maximum firing range is 1,000 m beyond which the missile is designed to auto-destruct.

The NLAW is designed as a single-use weapon and can't be reloaded. The missile has an effective range of 600 m against static targets and 400 m against moving targets. New missiles have been developed with a guidance system and can engage targets at a range of 800 meters and up.

The NLAW uses ‘predicted line of sight’ targeting, incorporating magnetic and optical sensors to rapidly travel to the target location. No lock on signature is required. The operator simply tracks the target for a few seconds before firing and NLAW does the rest.