Dozens of Ukrainian troops recently completed training in Norway on how to operate and maintain the system. The first two NASAMS delivered to Kyiv are now in use, but the number of launchers included in each of them is unclear.
This weapon generally falls into what militaries call a medium-range air defense system, able to hit targets at greater distances than weapons like the shoulder-fired Stinger missile the Pentagon has provided Ukraine, but with less range than larger and more expensive ones like the Patriot missile system.
So while NASAMS can shoot down drones, helicopters, jets and cruise missiles, it is not considered effective against ballistic missiles of the type Russia is reportedly trying to purchase from Iran.
“It’s an advanced system, more modern than what Ukraine has now,” said Ian Williams, the deputy director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington.
“It will allow them to defend larger sites, places like critical infrastructure, and the batteries — the launchers themselves — can be spread out over quite a big area,” he said. “A single battery can’t defend everywhere, but it will allow them to beef up defenses at certain critical sites that need protection,” including around electrical infrastructure.
The launcher is capable of firing four different American-made missiles, Mr. Williams said, including the heat-seeking AIM-9X Sidewinder and the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, which has a radar that can home in on airborne threats about 30 miles away. Additionally, it can identify targets approaching from any direction, Mr. Williams said.
These missiles are among the most commonly purchased by the air forces of the United States, NATO countries and other partners, with tens of thousands of each in circulation.