TechU.S. bolsters Ukraine's air defense with $138 million HAWK system sale

U.S. bolsters Ukraine's air defense with $138 million HAWK system sale

MIM-23 Hawk
MIM-23 Hawk
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1:11 PM EDT, April 10, 2024
The U.S. Department of State has approved a sale to Ukraine under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) procedure, consisting of an operational and logistical support package for the MIM-23 HAWK Phase III air defense system. This approval marks a significant decision, granting a potential sale worth up to $138 million. The package includes components for missile recertification, tools, test equipment, support gear, technical documentation, spare parts, repair services, and operation training.

The main contractors for this project will be RTX in Andover and PROJECTXYZ in Huntsville. The equipment will come from various sources, including U.S. Army stocks, domestic donations, commercial off-the-shelf items, and new production. This sale is deemed in the interest of U.S. national security by the State Department, especially under the pressing circumstances, thereby waiving the typical Congressional control requirements as per section 36 b) of the Arms Export Control Act.

This proposed sale aligns with the U.S. foreign policy goals and national security objectives by enhancing the security of Ukraine, a nation contributing to political stability and economic progress in Europe. Implementing the sale will necessitate the temporary travel of around 5 U.S. government representatives and 15 contract performers to Europe to support the training and maintenance of the MIM-23 HAWK Phase III system.

MIM-23 HAWK Phase III — Paving the Way for Patriot in Protecting Ukrainian Skies

Ukraine has acquired batteries for this system from countries like Spain and the USA. Despite not matching the capabilities of systems such as the Patriot, SAMP/T, or S-300, the MIM-23 HAWK system stands as a vital asset, especially against ballistic targets from the 1990s that evade capture by more prevalent short-range systems. Ukraine, facing formidable challenges against ballistic threats, finds solace in this system's ability to protect strategic targets.

The development of the MIM-23 Hawk originated in the 1950s in the United States, aiming to create a medium-range air defense system using semi-active radar guidance. Similar to systems like the S-300, its technology gained recognition throughout the Cold War. This system capitalizes on a radar-guided missile nose, with its fire control radar “illuminating” the target until impact. Despite its historical effectiveness, this guidance method is now considered outdated, particularly vulnerable to SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) missions. In contrast, newer systems like Patriot or SAMP/T boast missiles with onboard radar, enhancing operation with "fire and forget" capabilities, albeit at a steeper cost per missile.

Introduced by the U.S. Army in 1960, the MIM-23 HAWK became a staple in the arsenals of NATO members and allied nations globally, including Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Continuous upgrades were made to adapt to the evolving needs of its widespread user base. Initially capable of engaging targets within a 15-mile range and up to 46,000 feet in altitude, later versions expanded its reach to 25 miles and 59,000 feet, enhancing its capability against short-range ballistic missiles. With a maximum missile speed of Mach 2.4 (1,812 mph) and a 119-pound fragmentation warhead, the system could launch missiles from towed and self-propelled platforms, each equipped with three missiles.

Notably, Spain has recently enhanced its version of this system, upgrading its batteries in 2021 with digital components and integrating the modern AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar. These improvements have significantly increased response times and target tracking efficiency, showcasing continued advancements and adaptations of the MIM-23 HAWK system.
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