TechGreece trades decommissioned missiles and weaponry for US military aid in move to bolster Ukraine's air defenses

Greece trades decommissioned missiles and weaponry for US military aid in move to bolster Ukraine's air defenses

Greek Tor-M1 during polygonal shooting.
Greek Tor-M1 during polygonal shooting.
Images source: © Greek Ministry of National Defense
1:33 PM EST, January 28, 2024, updated: 4:43 AM EST, March 7, 2024

Greece holds significant potential to provide aid as it is one of the few Western countries possessing Russian air and missile defense systems. However, due to its strained relations with Turkey, Greece hesitates to reduce its armed forces' potential, even temporarily, without any compensation in return.

To illustrate, consider the issue with the BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles. These were only dispatched after being replaced by German Marders. It appears that the U.S.'s agreement to sell F-35A aircraft to Greece and a support package worth $200 million will come to fruition without any issues. In return, Athens is expected to provide Ukraine with its obsolete and out-of-commission anti-aircraft missiles and artillery.

Key armaments Greece might provide to Ukraine

Greece's inventory includes numerous Russian anti-aircraft systems and, more importantly, a large cache of missiles for these systems. Notably, the production of missiles for these systems is exclusively conducted in Russia, leaving Ukraine unable to restock its air defense system supplies.

Effectively, the only potential source is countries currently using these systems. However, they are highly reluctant to dispense with them. For example, in the case of the S-300 systems, Ukraine only managed to procure a battery from Slovakia and a few damaged missiles from Bulgaria, which needed repairs. The situation was no different with the more commonly used Osa-AK/AKM systems, where Ukraine received missiles from Poland or Jordan.

It's likely to be a similar scenario with Greece, meaning Ukraine might receive missiles for the S-300, Osa-AK/AKM, or Tor-M1 systems. The former are missiles capable of engaging targets at a distance of up to 93 miles and altitudes of up to 15.5 miles. Furthermore, S-300 systems are also able to intercept ballistic missiles up to 24.8 miles away, revealing Ukraine's vulnerabilities in these types of systems based on recent missile attacks.

That said, systems with shorter ranges designed to counter Russian aircraft or maneuvering missiles with a range greater than handheld MANPADS launchers are equally crucial. For instance, Tor-M1 system missiles effectively engage targets 9.9 miles away and up to 6.2 miles at altitudes. Notably, Greece has claimed a 92-98% effectiveness rate for their Tor systems during their exercises, depending on the target.

Meanwhile, the older Osa systems can engage targets at a distance of up to 6.2 miles and altitudes up to 3.1 miles (9M33M2 missiles) or up to 9.3 miles and at altitudes up to 5.6 miles (9M33M3 missiles). Reports from Ukraine indicated an 80% efficiency rate with the newer missiles, which is not an insignificant result.

Lastly, there are discussions around anti-aircraft guns, referring to the towed ZU-23-2 23 mm caliber guns. These allow for adequate protection against Shahed drones, up to just over 1.2 miles away, when using standard ammunition. Greece has several hundred of these guns and likely a substantial ammo supply.

Greece is careful in its approach to supporting Ukraine. By negotiating its position as a possessor of currently sought-after equipment, Greece aims to enhance its defense potential at the lowest possible expense by trading outdated Soviet equipment for more modern Western-made systems.

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