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Italy to transfer second MAMBA air defense system to Ukraine

Italy is poised to announce transferring a second SAMP/T MAMBA air defense system to Ukraine.

The transfer was first reported by the daily La Repubblica. Previously deployed to Slovakia as part of a NATO mission, this system will soon be transferred to the Ukrainian armed forces. 

Italy’s next support package reportedly includes the SAMP/T MAMBA, Stinger man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), and SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow long-range missiles. The details of the aid package, including the SAMP/T system, are expected to be finalized by mid-June 2024 before being ratified by the Italian Parliament.

This will mark the second MAMBA system to be delivered to Ukraine. In May 2023, Italy and France collaborated to provide a complete system featuring one command and control system connected to a multi-function Arabel radar and up to six vertical launchers, each equipped with eight ASTER 30 missiles. 

The MAMBA system is designed to track 100 trajectories and engage ten simultaneously, with up to 48 missiles ready to fire. It is the only European system designed to counter ballistic missiles. The ASTER 30 interceptor missile developed by MBDA can hit aircraft up to 120 kilometers away and ballistic missiles at 30 kilometers. 

The system has been in operation with the French and Italian armed forces since 2010 and is available in limited quantities. The 1st Air Artillery Regiment of the French Air and Space Force reported operating eight MAMBA systems in 2022. The 4th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment “Peschiera” of the Italian Army has four operational batteries.

Addressing Ukraine’s vulnerability to ballistic missiles

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, emphasized Ukraine’s vulnerability to ballistic strikes following the destruction of the Trypilska Thermal Power Plant, located near Kyiv, on April 11, 2024. Kuleba stressed the need for at least seven Patriot systems to protect the country’s main cities. 

So far, Germany has supplied two Patriot batteries, and the US has provided one. Following Kuleba’s recent appeal for more assistance, Germany has been the only country to commit to providing an additional system. 

To accelerate the acquisition of Patriot systems, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, reported that discussions were ongoing between Ukrainian businesses and the multiple US companies that produce the different components of the platform.

“Air defense is the number one priority; we need both additional systems and interceptor missiles for all the systems we have,” Markarova said in an interview with European Pravda, commenting on the recent $61 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine approved by the US Congress. “We cannot do without producing ourselves, at least, a significant part of the components, and at most – the finished product.”

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