Ukrainian military service members have started mastering NLAW anti-tank grenade launchers provided recently as defense assistance to Kyiv by the United Kingdom amid the looming threat of all-out assault by Russia.
The studies began on Jan. 25 at the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ 184th Training Center in Lviv Oblast, under the guidance of British personnel, part of the U.K.’s training mission in Ukraine, Operation ORBITAL, according to the military.
“Very soon, the first several dozens of Ukrainian military service members will be able to effectively employ these anti-tank missile systems and also train other Ukrainian soldiers,” said Lieutenant General Pavlo Tkachuk, the Ground Forces Academy principal in charge of the training center.
The U.K.’s Secretary for Defense Ben Wallace announced the decision to provide Ukraine with NLAW anti-tank systems was announced by the in an address to the House of Commons on Jan. 18.
Shortly following the announcement, nearly 2,000 grenade launchers were transferred to Kyiv by Royal Air Force transport aircraft, with minimal public awareness.
The defensive weapons were sent as part of the U.K.’s additional assistance package for Ukraine. The U.K. also sent a small number of military instructors to provide appropriate training for Ukrainian troops.
Afterwards, Wallace also said London was considering sending even more assistance to Kyiv as Russia had failed to de-escalate despite intense Western diplomatic efforts.
As of January, Russia is reported to have massed over 120,000 troops in and around Ukraine, raising fears of a large-scale invasion and occupation.
The NLAW is known as a type of man-portable, short-range, fire-and-forget missile system operated by the U.K. and a number of other militaries across the world.
It is a Swedish-British project designed by Saab Bofors Dynamics in the early 2000s and manufactured by Thales Air Defence in Britain.
According to the arms developer, those are easy-to-use, disposable tank killers most suitable for the infantry. Launchers weighing 12.5 kilograms have a combat range between 20 and 800 meters, and they require just 5 seconds to detect and engage a target.
Similar to American-made FGM-148 Javelin systems, the NLAWs supplement Ukraine’s arsenal of highly-mobile tank killers at the right time for repelling Russian attacks in restrictive terrain, especially in intense urban warfare.