HAWK air defence equipment

Source: By The Indian Express

The United States is considering retrieving older HAWK air defence equipment from storage to send to Ukraine which is facing a heavy barrage of Russian drone-fired and cruise missiles, Reuters reported on 25 October 2022, quoting unnamed officials.

The report said it was unclear how many HAWK systems and missiles the United States had available to send to Ukraine. The White House declined to comment, it said.

HAWK after Stinger

The HAWK interceptor missiles would be an upgrade to the Stinger missile system, which is a smaller, shorter-range air defence system. The US sent the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft Stingers to Ukraine early on in the war, and then placed orders for more stocks of the missiles with Raytheon Technologies Corp. after they demonstrated great success in stopping Russian air assaults.

The US would likely initially send interceptor missiles for the HAWK system to Ukraine because it was unclear if enough US launchers — in storage for decades — were in good repair, a US official told Reuters.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Spain intends to send four HAWK launchers, the report said.

PATRIOT predecessor

HAWK, short for ‘Homing All the Way Killer’, entered service with the US Army in 1959, during the Vietnam war. It underwent upgrades over the decades that followed, including a major one in 1971 that produced the so-called I-HAWK (or improved HAWK), with a kill probability of 85%.

The HAWK system was the predecessor to the PATRIOT missile defence system that Raytheon built in the 1990s. US forces largely stopped using HAWK from the early years of the new century. PATRIOT remains off the table for Ukraine, the Reuters report said, quoting US officials.

Presidential authority

The Biden administration would use the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to transfer the HAWK equipment, Reuters said. According to the US Department of State, PDA allows for the “speedy delivery of defence articles and services from Department of Defence stocks to foreign countries and international organisations to respond to unforeseen emergencies”.

Military assistance under PDA does not require Congressional approval, and could “begin arriving within days — or even hours — of approval”. A PDA is being considered for later this week, US officials have said, Reuters reported.

Following the waves of aerial attacks that targeted civilians and knocked out vital infrastructure in Ukraine earlier this month, President Joe Biden pledged to President Volodomyr Zelenskyy that the US would provide his country with advanced air systems.

Biden, who spoke by phone with Zelenskyy on 10 October 2022, assured him of continued US support against Russia’s “senseless attacks” on civilian targets. “President Biden pledged to continue providing Ukraine with the support needed to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems,” a White House statement on the phone call said.

The US has provided almost $17 billion worth of security assistance to Ukraine since the launch of Russia’s invasion on 24 February 2022.