The CEO of US weapons giant Raytheon Technologies, Gregory Hayes, revealed on Thursday that Washington is working with partner nations in West Asia to transfer a handful of their air defense systems to Ukraine.
"The [Pentagon] is going to attempt to do some trading for us where we’ll take some from the [West Asian] countries that are our friends and some from our NATO allies, and try and get those into Ukraine early next year," Hayes said, before adding that the weapons will be "[backfilled] with new production over the next two years."
Hayes did not mention specific countries the US is discussing the plan with. Washington’s goal with this plan is to deliver National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) to Ukraine within the next three to six months, to avoid a two-year wait for new ones from Raytheon’s factory.
"Just because it takes 24 months to build, it doesn’t mean it’s going to take 24 months to get [to Ukraine]," he said.
NASAMS are operated by five NATO members – Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, and Spain – as well as Oman and Qatar in West Asia, according to Defense Security Cooperation Agency records. Australia, Chile, Finland, and Indonesia also operate the systems.
The White House reportedly approved the arrangement to transfer the air defense systems to Ukraine. However, a Defense Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Politico.
Hayes made the revelations just a day after the US army awarded a $1.2 billion contract to Raytheon for six NASAMS for Ukraine, which are part of the fifth Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) package with a total value of $2.98 billion. Raytheon is also waiting in the wings for the approval of a $1 billion deal to provide Qatar with anti-drone systems.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine in February, the US congress has approved $65.9 billion in Ukraine assistance through three separate supplemental funding packages.
Just two weeks ago, US President Joe Biden asked congress for an additional $38 billion in Ukraine aid. If approved, this would bring the total amount of US taxpayer money Washington has funneled into the pockets of US weapon makers and Ukrainian authorities to $104 billion in less than a year.