May 18, 2024

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surface-to-air missile system provided by Ottawa | A gift long overdue

surface-to-air missile system provided by Ottawa |  A gift long overdue

(Ottawa) The air defense system promised to Ukraine by Canada a year ago may not be on the battlefield anytime soon. In the United States, production of this equipment, which is badly needed in Guy, has not yet begun. Meanwhile, Russian missiles continue to rain down on Ukraine.

In military jargon, these expensive battery surface-to-air missiles are called NASAMS.

At US$406 million (about CAN$550 million) each, the donation, announced by the Canadian government in January 2023, represents 12.5% ​​of total Canadian military aid to Ukraine, which will reach 4 billion through 2029.

But unlike Leopard tanks, rocket launchers or M777 howitzers, which were obtained from the Canadian Armed Forces' stocks and could be quickly delivered, the NASAMS purchased from the United States is far from achieving its goal.

First, the documentation is not yet complete. Although the agreement has been signed, Washington and Kiev are still finalizing the letter of acceptance. Once this final administrative step is completed, Raytheon will be able to begin production, which will take two years. The Wall Street Journal.

Alexandre Tétreault, a spokesman for the Department of National Security, reports that Minister Bill Blair met with the US ambassador to Canada, David Cohen, and asked him to “accelerate the delivery time of this essential acquisition for Ukraine”.

He did not meet resistance, the embassy spokesman assures: “Given the pressing needs in Ukraine, the United States and Canada are discussing ways in which the United States will try to accelerate the delivery of Canadian-funded NASAMS. »

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At the same time, Ukrainian forces are demanding weapons. Last summer's counteroffensive fell far short of hoped-for results, and in recent weeks the Russian military has intensified its bombing of Ukraine's energy infrastructure.

Lack of planning

Justin Massey, full professor in the political science department at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), notes that “by buying equipment that doesn't exist, it has to be built abroad, there are obviously production and delivery times.”

This shows the planning weaknesses of the Canadian Armed Forces takeover, as if they had anti-aircraft defenses at their disposal before the invasion began, they could have provided them to the Ukrainians while they waited to receive them. A message to our troops.

Justin Massey is a full professor in the Department of Political Science at UQAM

Nevertheless, “although the acquisition process is going more slowly than we would like, it is still going significantly faster than the norm for the purchase of this type of equipment”, observes David Perry from the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs for his part.

A representative of the military think tank noted that Canada was among the first countries to “send a message” by donating NASAMS, saying that “other allies were very wary of alienating Russia and provoking conflict . . .

Countries that have shipped or purchased them include the United States, Norway, and Lithuania.

But in the end, the Ukrainians certainly won't turn their noses up at the air defense system, no matter when it comes, insists Justin Massey: “The needs will always be there, because they will continue to be exposed to the Russian threat no matter what happens. in battle. »

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“Another thing, the Ukrainians are telling us that they also need missiles, and Canada has not provided any since January 2023. The missiles, every time we are attacked, we have to use them, so we have to keep replenishing stocks,” said the associate director of the Strategic Analysis Network. continues.

Bombing “number one priority” in Ukraine

In Lithuania on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reaffirmed the capital importance of air defense.

“We were attacked today, tonight, early in the morning. Again, Kharkiv, again, Odessa, Zaporozhye, Kiev region, many of our regions, people at home, ”he lamented.

“That's why we have air defense […] Priority comes first,” the President asserted.

At the same time, the Ukrainian ground forces are also under strain, and there is a shortage of volunteers.

To make up for the shortfall, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law to mobilize more troops in the face of Russian attacks, which was not done without controversy.

With Agence France-Presse