Day 685: Ukraine needs more air defense systems

Ukraine needs more air defense systems

Ukraine needs more air defense systems. The White House meets with industry on tech innovation for Ukraine, the meeting lasts five hours. Media say Ukraine has shot down the first jet-powered drone that Iran unveiled in November, but the Ukrainian Air Force gives no confirmation.

Ukraine needs more air defense systems

Recent Russian missile and drone strikes against Ukraine show that Russia continues to experiment with new ways to penetrate Ukrainian air defenses. In this context, the continued and increased Western provision of air defense systems and missiles to Ukraine is crucial, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in a report on January 8. 

Ukrainian officials highlighted the need for more air defense systems after another large series of Russian missile and drone strikes against Ukraine on the night of January 7 to 8, ISW said.

Western provisions of air defense systems and missiles remain crucial for Ukraine as Russian forces attempt to adapt to current Ukrainian air defense capabilities and as Ukraine develops its defense industrial base (DIB).

ISW assessed that Russian and Ukrainian forces are currently engaged in a tactical and technological offensive-defense race wherein both sides are constantly experimenting and adapting their long-range strikes and air defenses. The continued and increased Western provision of air defense systems and missiles to Ukraine is crucial as Russian forces continue to experiment with new ways to penetrate Ukrainian air defenses.

The inclusion of Western-provided air defense systems into Ukraine’s air defense umbrella has been essential to Ukraine’s ability to defend against Russian missiles, particularly ballistic missiles. Western air defense systems and air defense missile provisions to Ukraine in the near- and medium-term are also essential to protecting Ukraine’s growing defense industrial base as Russian forces continue to target Ukrainian industrial facilities.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller called the provision of U.S. aid to Ukraine “critical” on January 4 because Ukraine is not yet able to defend itself but noted that US aid will not need to continue at previous levels because Ukraine is working to expand its defense industrial base to “stand on its own feet,” the report reads.

Ukraine shot down first jet-powered drone that Iran unveiled in November, unconfirmed reports say

Ukraine has reportedly shot down the first Shahed-238 kamikaze drone powered by a China-made jet engine that Iran unveiled in November 2023. The drone is an upgraded version of the Shahed-136. 

A Shahed-238 has allegedly reached the “middle of the country”, Ukrainian service member, expert in electronic warfare, Serhiy Beskrestnov who goes by the call sign “Flash” said on Telegram on January 8. 

The Shahed-238’s top speed is more than 500 kilometers per hour. The jet-powered drone can reach anywhere in Ukraine. It flies at a higher speed than the Shahed-136 variant and can maneuver. It carries a standard warhead though, and has a standard navigation system, Beskrestnov said.

A faster Shahed is harder to track with machine guns or cannons, and mobile air defense groups will need to be equipped with Osa, Igla or Stinger man-portable air defense systems. 

“It will traverse the distance to its target faster, and it maneuvers. Ukrainians need to know that in addition to the sound of a moped [the drone’s engine sounds like a moped] in the sky, there is now also the sound of aircraft,” he said.

The Ukrainian Air Force gave no confirmation of the fact that it had destroyed a jet-powered Shahed-238. The debris of a drone was not found. Spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force Command, Colonel Yuriy Ihnat said in televised comments: “We cannot confirm it. We have not found it [the downed Shahed-238]. If someone had found it, let them prove it, show it and make it known. What we have discussed is that Iran unveiled the Shahed-238 that is black in color. [Russian] occupying forces began to repaint regular Shahed drones in black.”

Ihnat said that the drone is a “mini-cruise missile”. The Shahed-238 carries more fuel, but it comes at the cost of the size of the warhead, he explained. 

White House meets with industry on tech innovation for Ukraine. Meeting lasts five hours

White House officials met on Monday with about a dozen leaders from venture capital firms and the technology and defense industries in an effort to reinforce the Biden administration’s interest in supporting Ukraine’s access to cutting-edge U.S. equipment, senior administration officials said, according to Reuters.

“The conversation focused on a number of systems, including, unmanned aerial systems, how to counter incoming unmanned aerial systems, and then also addressing the demining challenge,” one of the officials told a group of reporters during a telephone call following the five-hour meeting.

Jake Sullivan, head of the White House National Security Council, convened the meeting to push for a “renewed emphasis on helping Ukraine overcome these key technological challenges that they have identified as inhibiting their progress and momentum on the battlefield,” a second administration official said.

Key members of the National Security Council met with industry executives from Fortem Aerospace, defense technology companies like Palantir Technologies Inc (PLTR.N), and Anduril Industries Inc, as well as drone maker Skydio among others who were brought to the White House.

Jake Sullivan attended at least some of the event – as did his deputy, Jon Finer, who led a portion of the meeting, one of the officials said.

The officials stressed that any effort to support Ukraine would be curbed without the more than USD 100 billion supplemental aid package President Joe Biden has urged lawmakers to pass which includes about USD 50 billion in new security aid for Ukraine as it fights Russia, as well as USD 14 billion for Israel as it wages war against Hamas in Gaza.

Iranian and North Korean Missile and Drones Create New Challenges for 2024. Ukraine in Flames #557

In this episode of Ukraine in Flames, we delve into Ukraine’s air defense capabilities in light of Russia’s recent use of North Korean missiles and upgraded Iranian drones, discussing: the calculated nature of the holiday season attacks, carried out using synchronized tactics involving drones and various missiles; the Kremlin’s tacit response to using foreign missiles, undermining the propaganda that portrays Russia as a strong military power; the difficulties in obtaining long-range missiles from the West, pointing out the mismatch between political discussions and actual military-industrial aid received by Ukraine. Take a watch of UIF #557 to find out more.


  • Ivan Kyrychevskyi, expert at Defense Express
  • Oleksandr Kovalenko, Military and Political Observer, Information Resistance Group
  • Volodymyr Solovian, Head of the Hybrid Warfare Analytical Group, UCMC