Since September, Ukrainian air defense has destroyed 540 Iranian kamikaze drones, according to Ukrainian Air Force spokesman, Yuri Ihnat. Gepard “is effective against these UAVs, as well as against cruise missiles,” he said, “but this weapon, which is intended for air defense of the Ground Forces, is not enough.”

Given the amount of drone and missile threats, Ukrainian forces still have to use old Soviet-era weaponry as well as expensive anti-aircraft missile systems, both new radar systems and missile launchers sent by Western allies.

While US officials cannot confirm the sheer number of downed drones, “we have no reason not to believe what they say,” said a Defense Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the issue. requested. “But we have to defer to them, because we can’t be there and see it for ourselves or calculate it ourselves.”

While Gepard has proven to be exceptionally effective, problems loom on the horizon.

Many of the rounds for the vehicles’ two guns were manufactured in Switzerland, and the government there has refused to allow Germany to re-export those rounds to Ukraine, citing its neutral status.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht wrote to the Swiss government in October asking it to send 12,400 rounds of Swiss-made ammunition to Ukraine, a request that was denied. In December, German manufacturer Rheinmetall said it would open a new production line to make 35mm ammunition, although the first rounds won’t be available until later this year.

The lack of domestic industrial capacity has increasingly worried Western governments since the start of the war. As a result, the US and its European allies are hastily working to identify weapons they might be able to run out of old stockpiles and are considering ways to begin pooling resources as the war in Ukraine escalates against NATO. continues to empty the godowns of

In Washington, closed-door talks have begun about taking Cold War-era weapons out of bunkers and upgrading them to be useful to Kyiv, according to a person familiar with the discussions. One such program has already begun, with missiles sent to the long-retired US-built HAWK air defense systems to receive updates needed for combat.

The HAWK missiles will be combined with multiple launchers Spain has promised to send to Ukraine. The Hawk is still in use in Europe and elsewhere, but was phased out by the US military in the early 1990s in favor of the Patriot system, meaning existing missiles in US stockpiles needed to be refurbished .

The 90s retirement was part of a wider trend in the NATO alliance that saw a slowdown in the production of many weapons and cuts in defense spending as Europe looked to embrace the peace dividend that came widely with the end of the Soviet Union. Ran for

The US is also looking for ways to stop the supply of Iranian drones at the source.

“We are looking at ways to target Iran’s UAV production through sanctions, export controls and talking to private companies whose parts have been used in production,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson. “We are assessing further steps in terms of export controls to restrict Iran’s access to the technologies used in the drone.”

Lara Seligman contributed to this report

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