The continued provision of Western air defense systems and missiles is essential as Russia finds new ways to breach Ukraine's air defenses, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Jan. 8 report.
Russian forces launched a series of devastating aerial attacks against Ukraine in recent days, targeting residential areas and civilian infrastructure with missiles and drones. Although Ukraine bolstered its air defenses ahead of an anticipated difficult winter, Kyiv has called for greater air defense support from allies in light of the recent attacks.
ISW analysts said that Russia and Ukraine are engaged in a technological race for air superiority, constantly adapting their air defense systems and long-range strike capabilities to match the other side.
"The inclusion of Western-provided air defense systems into Ukraine’s air defense umbrella has been essential to Ukraine’s ability to defend against Russian missiles, particularly ballistic missiles," the ISW wrote.
Ukraine's Commander in Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said on Jan. 2 that Ukraine downed a record number of Russian Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles using U.S.-designed Patriot air defense systems.
The ISW said that Ukraine needs continued short-term and medium-term shipments of military aid, particularly defense missiles, in order to protect its growing defense-industrial base from Russian attacks.
Ukraine hopes to scale up domestic weapons production this year, partnering with international manufacturers to produce its own tanks, ammunition, and air defense systems. President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Dec. 27 that Ukraine had tripled its production of arms and equipment in 2023.
Delays in Western aid also raise fears that the Ukrainian military will run out of essential equipment.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan convened industry leaders in the defense and technology sectors at the White House on Jan. 8 to speak with senior administration officials on potential battlefield innovations for Ukraine.
Officials said that much of the conversation focused on air defense capabilities, but warned that the U.S. needs to secure funding for Ukraine before it can move forward with these developments.