As the expected winter barrage of Russian missile and one-way attack munitions continues to impact upon Ukraine’s cities, the UK has committed to the provision of additional lethal aid in 2024 on top of the range of land, sea, and air systems already donated to Kyiv.
During a 2 January call between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, it was stated that the UK would continue to support Ukraine throughout 2024 and beyond.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Sunak and Zelenskyy discussed a range of issues facing Ukraine, including the value of air defence capabilities which have been “bolstered by UK-supplied” ground-to-air missile systems.
On 29 December 2023, the UK announced that the delivery of a new package of air defence systems to Ukraine had commenced. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated that the package of around 200 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM) will re-supply UK-developed air defence systems provided to Ukraine in late 2022.
UK Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps said the provision of additional air defence missiles sent an “undeniable message” that the UK remained “absolutely committed” to the support of Ukraine.
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Manufactured in the UK by MBDA, the ASRAAM is 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, according to the UK MoD.
The UK MoD has claimed a successful hit rate of the ASRAAM systems delivered to Ukraine as high as 90% “against some Russian air targets”.
UK support to Ukraine to reach £4.6bn by end of FY23/24
Other key capabilities provided by the UK to Ukraine include a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks, three batteries of self-propelled AS90 guns, M270 multiple launch rocket systems, 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.
The UK has also provided an extensive military training programme for Ukraine’s armed forces through Operational Interflex, with more than 53,000 service personnel having passed through various courses since 2014. The UK is planning to train an additional 10,000 Ukrainian recruits in the first half of 2024.
Official UK military support to Ukraine has seen a total commitment of £4.6bn ($5.8bn), with the £2.3bn set aside for FY23/24 covering up until the end of the current financial year.