UK Defence Secretary announces that hundreds of British-made ASRAAM air defence missiles are being shipped to Ukraine.
News Release, Whitehall, 29 December 2023: Delivery of a new package of sophisticated air defence missiles for Ukraine has commenced, rounding off a landmark year for the UK’s support for Ukraine – having been the first country to provide modern Western tanks, as well as long-range precision strike capability. The delivery comes as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, with hundreds of drones and missiles believed to have been launched overnight on cities including Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa.
The package of around 200 air defence missiles will re-supply UK-developed air defence systems provided to Ukraine in late 2022, topping up Ukraine’s crucial air defence capability to protect their citizens, front line, and critical national infrastructure from Russian bombing and one-way attack drones.
The new package of support comes amid the most significant year for the UK’s military aid to Ukraine so far. Following announcements by the Prime Minister at the start of the year, the UK has now supplied a squadron of battle-ready Challenger 2 tanks, three batteries of self-propelled AS90 guns, hundreds of armoured and protected vehicles, as well as long-range precision strike capability in the form of Storm Shadow cruise missiles and long-range attack drones.
Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “Putin’s latest wave of murderous airstrikes are a desperate and futile attempt to regain momentum after the catastrophic loss of hundreds of thousands of conscripts and ahead of the humiliation of his three-day war entering a third calendar year.
“We continue to stand by Ukraine’s defence, which is why today we are sending hundreds of air defence missiles to restock British gifted air defence systems capable of striking down Russian drones and missiles with incredible accuracy.
“Putin is testing Ukraine’s defences and the West’s resolve, hoping that he can clutch victory from the jaws of defeat. But he is wrong. Ukraine’s degradation of the Russian Black Sea fleet has proven it is still in this fight to win. And today’s air defence package sends an undeniable message, in the face of Russian barbarity that the UK remains absolutely committed to supporting Ukraine.
“Now is the time for the free world to come together and redouble our efforts to get Ukraine what they need to win.”
These air defence missiles (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles – ASRAAM) are manufactured in the UK by defence contractor MBDA and are designed to be launched from aircraft including the UK’s Typhoon and F-35 fighter jets. In summer 2022, a joint MoD-MBDA team developed air defence systems to fire ASRAAM from the ground for the first time. Within four months of initiating the surface launched ASRAAM project, these air defence systems were developed, manufactured, trialled and Ukrainian crews trained on their usage, on UK soil, before being transferred into Ukrainian hands.
The surface launched ASRAAM project has demonstrated the best of British engineering ingenuity and the agility of MOD and British industry to rapidly deliver very effective yet low-cost solutions to the frontline to meet urgent requirements. The systems have proven highly effective – with a successful hit rate reported as high as 90% against some Russian air targets. Ukrainian operators have become adapt at their usage and have asked for more missiles to protect their country.
Further to the thousands of rounds of ammunition and anti-tank missiles provided to Ukraine by the UK, November marked 30,000 recruits having passed through Operation INTERFLEX – the programme of training delivered to Ukrainian recruits on UK soil. Including specialised training delivered by the UK to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, such as training of Ukrainian marines, explosive ordnance disposal experts, and combat air pilots, the UK has now trained more than 53,000 Ukrainians since Putin first ordered the invasion of Crimea in 2014. The Defence Secretary previously announced an ambition to train an additional 10,000 recruits in the first half of 2024.
UK military support to Ukraine has seen a total commitment of £4.6bn, with the £2.3bn set aside for FY23/24 covering up until the end of the financial year. The Prime Minister has expressed his intent to continue support for Ukraine in 2024.