Ukraine’s Patchwork Air Defense Faces New Threat From Cheap Iranian Drones

Western help is hindered as U.S. and allies have neglected air defenses

Ukraine is relying on a hodgepodge of air-defense systems to counter the Russian threat from the sky that has intensified with Moscow’s use of drones that Ukraine and Western governments say have been supplied by Iran.

Kyiv has pleaded for more air-defense help from the U.S. and other Western backers. The top U.S. military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, and other allied officials have promised to help Ukraine acquire additional systems and connect them into an integrated network. But that assistance is coming slowly, leaving Ukraine vulnerable to continued attacks from drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.

One reason for that is that the U.S. and its allied militaries didn’t make air defense a priority after the end of the Cold War. At the time they saw the main threat coming from insurgents and regional powers and were confident that their own air forces could seize command of the skies.

Adversaries such as Iran have sought to exploit this by developing cruise and ballistic missiles as well as drones that are cheap and relatively easy to use.

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Ukraine, Russia, drones