Italy Confirms Second SAMP/T Air Defence Battery Earmarked for Ukraine

Defence Industry

Rome: Italy has confirmed it will send a second SAMP/T air defence battery to Ukraine in response to urgent appeals by Kyiv to help defeat Russian missile attacks.

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“It is known that we will send SAMP/T, which is an instrument of air defence, therefore of protection, that Ukraine itself asked us for,” Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, said late on June 3.

One of five systems now operated by Italy, the battery due for dispatch to Ukraine is reportedly currently deployed in Kuwait. Another system has recently been stationed in Slovakia as part of a NATO program, and another is due to be set up in June in southern Italy to protect a G7 summit.

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The battery is set to be included in the ninth package of arms to be delivered to Kyiv since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The ninth package of arms including the SAMP/T system is unlikely to be approved until after European Union elections this weekend. Italy jointly supplied a battery with France to Ukraine last year. SAMP/T is a truck-based tactical antimissile system designed to destroy hostile cruise missiles, manned and unmanned aircraft and tactical ballistic missiles.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been a keen backer of Kyiv’s campaign to oust Russian forces, but so far the Italian government has kept details of its arms supply secret amid widespread opposition among Italian voters to sustaining the war effort.

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Tajani said that Italy would not allow Ukraine to use Italian weaponry to strike targets inside Russia. “Italian arms cannot be used against Russian territory, but we will help Ukraine to defend itself from the Russian invasion,” he said.

The United States last week gave Ukraine limited permission to Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons to hit targets inside Russia close to the border with the Kharkiv region. On June 2 the Russian ministry of defence claimed US-supplied HIMARS artillery had been fired into Russia.

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Meanwhile, the Netherlands has been trying to “quickly” pull together an additional Patriot air-defence system for Ukraine, and has called on other European nations to contribute, the Dutch government said last week. The Netherlands will provide core components and parts for a Patriot system from existing stocks, and has identified which countries could offer additional parts and munitions, the Defence Ministry said in a May 28 statement. The government is in talks with several partners to assemble a complete system, including training of Ukrainian crews.

“With our offer, and consulting with partner countries providing several key parts and munitions, we can provide Ukraine with at least one fully operational system in a short time frame,” Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a statement.

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The Netherlands said that while Patriot systems are admittedly scarce, “Ukraine is also fighting Europe’s fight,” and the country’s war-fighting capability, energy production and infrastructure are under daily attack.

Ollongren cited remarks by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that member countries could temporarily move below the alliance’s own defence capability pledges, “so the room for creativity is there.” The Netherlands is counting on pledges made by industrial suppliers to speed up production and delivery of replacement systems, Ollongren said.

Stoltenberg said in an April 17 speech that if allies face a choice between meeting alliance capability objectives and providing more aid to Ukraine, “my message is clear: send more to Ukraine.”

The Netherlands has so far contributed two Patriot launchers as well as air-defence missiles for the system, according to the Defence Ministry.