Ukraine has successfully converted Soviet air defense systems to fire missiles produced by the United States, Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said in an interview with Radio NV on Nov. 12.
"We have good results of the combat use of Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems on the training ground in the United States, which have been converted and adapted to American missiles," Ihnat said.
Ukraine inherited Buk-M1 anti-aircraft systems from the Soviet Union, but the weapons typically use missiles that only Russia produces.
It is therefore necessary to look for ways to convert and modernize such systems to strengthen Ukraine's air defense capabilities, the spokesperson said.
The main systems used by Ukrainian air defense are the Buk-M1 systems, as well as the S-300 and S-125 systems, Ihnat told NV in May. He emphasized that Ukraine must eventually replace all Soviet air defense systems with modern versions.
Reports emerged in January 2023 that the Ukrainian military had found a way to modify its Buk launchers to fire Sea Sparrow missiles.
Sea Sparrows can be launched from the sea or ground to intercept aircraft or cruise missiles. The U.S. and most allies use the ship-mounted version, but the reports indicated that Ukraine is expected to use the ground-launched version, currently only operated this way by Taiwan.
The Ukrainian defense industry is also working in cooperation with western companies, such as German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, to produce equipment for the military.
Ukraine's state-owned Ukrainian Defense Industry concern will join forces with Rheinmetall to repair and maintain Western-produced military vehicles and ultimately to produce them domestically in Ukraine, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Oct. 24.
Reforming the military to NATO standards is one of the key tasks President Volodymyr Zelensky assigned to Defense Minister Rustem Umerov when he was appointed in September.