Depletion of the arsenal is the prevailing theme in the war in Ukraine. It ends, not only for Ukrainians but also for Russians. Supplies are becoming increasingly difficult, and winter will therefore most likely minimize direct clashes between the warring parties. From the perspective of an observer, it is logical to assume the continuation of aerial missile attacks on key infrastructure sites in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian S-300s can no longer stand up as they did at the beginning of the war. Ammunition is running out, and the few remaining air defense systems are running out of missiles. Ukraine needs ammunition more than air defense systems.
Amid the news that Washington is considering deploying the Patriot air defense system, France and Italy are considering the possibility of supporting American intentions with the delivery of the European SAMP-T air defense system, known by its nickname “Mamba”. The system “bites” quickly and many times. It fires up to ten missiles in a time frame of a few seconds and can engage 10 targets simultaneously, as well as doing it all in a 360-degree spin mode.
More criteria some experts believe that SAMP-T is better than the American Patriot system. Especially after the Patriot failures in the Middle East and the inability to provide more than 50% interception of missiles and drones manufactured in Iran and supplied to the Yemeni Houthis.
The delivery of SAMP-T to Ukraine is not discussed for the first time. BulgarianMilitary.com reported a month and a half ago that Italy is ready to deliver the air defense system to Ukraine, but even then we said that this does not depend on Rome but on Paris. France is the leading country in its production.
However, it is now clear that both countries have accepted Ukraine’s proposal. In this way, France and Italy ensure that it will be discussed. Whether Ukraine will eventually get the “European mamba” will become clear soon.
If this happens, we return to the primary problem – the supply of ammunition. We already know that neither Italy nor France can continuously supply missiles for SAMP-T. I.e. ammo will be in limited supply. This means that the SAMP-T will not be deployed on the front lines to provide air cover for Ukrainian military columns, but most likely on the outskirts of Kyiv. SAMP-T could also be deployed in another key Ukrainian city or region where Kyiv would like to protect a critical energy or another type [e.g. military data center] facility from Russian incursions.
Managing the entire air defense complex is not easy, on the contrary – it is considered even more complicated than the Patriot. Thus, the next question arises – who will manage this system. Of course, some would immediately exclaim that Ukrainians will be trained. It is possible, but in that case, it will take months from training to delivery and deployment of the system. It is not known how necessary this system will be in the next period.
NATO troops may be sent to better operate the SAMP-T. Officially NATO is not in Ukraine, but unofficially, Britain has already acknowledged the involvement of Royal Marines in discreet operations.
The “European Mamba” is part of the unified NATO air defense system in Europe. However, France and Italy are not required to seek permission [officially] from any other NATO member country if they decide to launch SAMP-Ts in Ukraine. SAMP-T is intended both for the protection of troops and mechanized formations on the march and for covering strategically important stationary objects.
The devices can shoot down aircraft, UAVs, cruise and anti-radar missiles, including tactical ballistic missiles, at a distance of 15 to 35 kilometers in all weather conditions.
Sweden to upgrade its Gripen fighter jets
Sweden-based aerospace and defense company Saab announced on Friday that it has received an order from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to ensure the continued operability of and provide capability enhancements to the fighter aircraft JAS 39 Gripen C/D.
As noted by the company, the order value is approximately SEK 3.5 billion ($340 million) and the contract period is 2023-2029.
The contract also includes options that enable FMV to place additional orders for capability enhancements during 2023.
The enhancements will provide Sweden with a more effective and powerful fighter capability. The aircraft will be equipped with a new version of the engine, which will enhance flight performance. A more effective electronic warfare system will also be introduced and the upgrade will create conditions for increased attack capability with a new payload.
The order encompasses an upgrade to Saab’s latest fighter radar, which provides increased performance with emphasis on enhanced fighter capability and extended detection and tracking range. It also includes an upgraded and future-proof avionic system which, among other features, enables fast software updates of the sensor function.
“This upgrade will provide the Swedish Air Force with a significantly stronger fighter capability. The contract is a big leap ahead in terms of radar performance and functionality, both for the hardware and software, and will future-proof the operational capability of Gripen C/D,” says Jonas Hjelm, Head of Saab’s business area Aeronautics.
The capability enhancement will enable better interoperability between Gripen C/D and Gripen E, for example by the upgrade of support systems and data links. Interoperability is a prerequisite as the platforms will be used in parallel over many years.
Major General Kovalchuk: We are preparing for possible offensive from Belarus in late February
Head of the Operational Command South, Major General Andrii Kovalchuk has said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are preparing for a possible offensive of the Russian troops from the north, from the territory of Belarus at the end of February.
“We are considering a possible offensive from Belarus at the end of February, maybe later. We are preparing for it. We are investigating. We look at where they accumulate strength and means. We are preparing,” Kovalchuk said in an interview with Sky News.
He does not rule out another wave of mobilization in Russia. At the same time, he notes that no matter how many soldiers the president of the aggressor country sends to war, the Ukrainian defense forces are ready to fight, but they need even stronger support from Western allies.
“I believe that our position and the position of our partners today should be clear. If Putin carries out a full mobilisation, our partners are ready to provide us with all the force and means to stop not an army of 300,000, but an army of a million,” Kovalchuk said.
In the immediate term, the general said Ukraine needs weapons from Western allies that are intended for offensive operations. In particular, Ukraine needs both tanks and planes, as well as “a reliable air defence system that is at least 95% effective”.
“We need more collective weapons – not an assault rifle, but a machine gun; not a projectile, but a cluster munition. There is a corresponding counteraction to the enemy’s actions. We are sure that our partners will help us in this matter – those who want [us] to win. Because it is not only Ukraine winning today, but the entire civilized world. And we must win,” he said,
The general is convinced that Ukraine will retake all its territories occupied by Russia, including Crimea.
“Crimea is a must – it is only a matter of time,” the general said, sitting in front of a line of flags representing different regions in the south of Ukraine, including the peninsula,” Kovalchuk said.
U.S. committed more than $19.3B in security aid to Ukraine since Feb 24
The United States has provided Ukraine with more than $19.3 billion in security aid since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale aggression.
Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said this at a briefing in Washington, Ukrinform reports.
“Since 2014, the United States has committed approximately $22.1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine and more than $19.3 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal full scale invasion on February 24th,” he said.
He assured that to meet Ukraine’s evolving battlefield requirements, the U.S. will continue “to work closely with our allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities and assistance, to include training.”
As Ukrinform reported, the United States on December 9 announced a new military aid package worth $275 million for Ukraine, which includes missiles for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), ammunition for artillery, as well as new capabilities to boost Ukraine’s air defenses.