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President Joe Biden speaks to reporters following the NATO summit in Madrid on June 30, 2022. Biden reiterated that the alliance will defend every inch of NATO territory.

President Joe Biden speaks to reporters following the NATO summit in Madrid on June 30, 2022. Biden reiterated that the alliance will defend every inch of NATO territory. (NATO)

WASHINGTON – The United States will send two advanced air-defense systems to Ukraine as part of its latest $820 million military aid package, Pentagon Press Secretary Todd Breasseale announced Friday.

Ukraine will receive two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, which can strike targets about 100 miles away. They will be purchased for Ukraine, rather than being pulled from U.S. stocks, according to the Pentagon.

“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional capabilities to Ukraine's armed forces,” Breasseale said.

The U.S. uses the Norwegian-developed anti-aircraft systems to protect airspace above the White House and U.S. Capitol building in Washington, according to The Associated Press.

“The United States continues to work with its allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its evolving battlefield requirements,” Breasseale said. “In particular, [the Defense Department] recognizes Norway’s cooperation to enable the historic provision by the United States of modern air defense systems that will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s brutal air attacks.”

The systems are expected to enhance Ukraine’s long-range rocket and missile capabilities that senior defense officials say have become more pertinent to the fight now focused in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

The NASAMS are the latest advanced weapons that the U.S. has sent Ukraine in its fight against invading Russian forces. In June, President Joe Biden sent eight High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which can strike targets roughly 50 miles away.

Also included in the latest aid package are four counter-artillery radars, up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm howitzers artillery ammunition, and additional HIMARS ammunition.

The military aid announced Friday is the 14th time that the U.S. has sent weapons and equipment to Ukraine since August, according to the Pentagon, the majority of which has been sent since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

The latest $820 million brings the total amount of aid that the U.S. has sent Ukraine to about $6.9 billion since the start of the war, and approximately $8.8 billion since Biden took office in January 2021, Breasseale said.

The aid will come out of the approximately $11 billion that Congress assigned for military aid in its supplemental funding bill to support Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion, according to the Pentagon.

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Caitlin Doornbos covers the Pentagon for Stars and Stripes after covering the Navy’s 7th Fleet as Stripes’ Indo-Pacific correspondent at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Previously, she worked as a crime reporter in Lawrence, Kan., and Orlando, Fla., where she was part of the Orlando Sentinel team that placed as finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Caitlin has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas and master’s degree in defense and strategic studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.
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