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Russia destroys NASAMS air defense system for first time in Ukraine

On February 27, 2024, the NASAMS air defense system was reportedly destroyed by the Russian military in Ukraine, as images circulating on social media show a launcher of the system destroyed following a Russian attack.
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Destruction of a Ukrainian NASAMS air defense missile system by the Russian Army. (Picture source: Social Media / Kongsberg)

Images showing the destruction of the NASAMS air defense missile system launch platform by the Russian army have been shared on social media. The NASAMS air defense system is known to typically include the Raytheon Sentinel radar and the Kongsberg firing system.

In November 2022, the former Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, announced on his social media account that the NASAMS and Aspide air defense systems had been delivered to Ukraine.

The NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a medium to long-range air defense system using missiles propelled by a solid-fuel rocket motor. This system is used by several countries around the world, including Chile, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Spain, Ukraine, the United States, and Hungary. Designed in Norway, the NASAMS employs the AIM-120C missile, which is equipped with a high explosive blast-fragmentation warhead weighing 18.1 kg, designed to maximize damage against enemy air targets.

The NASAMS system can operate in active and/or passive engagement modes, thus offering considerable flexibility in detecting and intercepting aerial threats. With a range of up to 180 km, it is capable of engaging distant targets, providing extensive defensive coverage. The missile's speed can reach Mach 2.7, allowing it to catch up and intercept fast targets such as aircraft and cruise missiles. The missile has a length of 3.7 meters, a diameter of 0.18 meters, and a wingspan of 0.53 meters.

A NASAMS air defense system battery includes three multiple missile launchers (LCHR), each capable of carrying up to six missiles ready to be launched in protective containers. The purpose of the NASAMS multi-missile launcher is to transport, aim, and launch missiles of different characteristics, all mounted on the same launch rail inside insulated tubes. The NASAMS launcher can carry up to six AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles and connects to the Fire Distribution Center (FDC) via radio/wired communication.

The destruction of a NASAMS launcher is not good news for the Ukrainian forces struggling to counter Russian air dominance. However, it is important to remember that a launcher does not constitute an entire battery, which will be less operational but still functional.


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