NATO Countries Using Ukraine As Weapons Test Ground, Valuable Lessons

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  • Ukraine’s fight against Russia has provided an important testing ground for NATO weaponry.
  • And Ukraine’s defense minister and industry experts told the Financial Times a lot is being learned.
  • This includes using Patriot air defenses to down Kinzal missiles that Russia claimed were unstoppable.

Ukraine’s war with Russia is giving NATO countries the chance to test their advanced weaponry on an actual battlefield, and they’re gaining valuable insight as a result, the Financial Times reported.

NATO members, including the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and France, have been giving Ukraine weapons and training since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

And the kinds of weapons they have handed over have become increasingly advanced since the war began, with Ukraine pushing for modern tanks, air defense systems, and aircraft.

Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksiy Reznikov told the FT that because of this, Ukraine’s allies “can actually see if their weapons work, how efficiently they work and if they need to be upgraded.”

“For the military industry of the world, you can’t invent a better testing ground,” he said.

Reznikov pointed to Ukraine shooting down a Russian Kinzhal missile in May using a US-made Patriot system.

Experts had thought that the Patriot was likely able to shoot down a Kinzhal, the FT reported, but Ukraine’s troops were able to prove it. Russia had previously bragged that these missiles were unstoppable.

More Kinzhal missiles have been shot down over Ukraine since.

Reznikov said that Ukraine was also showing NATO countries how their weaponry could work when used together.

At the same time, he said that Russia’s attempts to frustrate Ukraine’s weaponry with moves like jamming signals meant constant updates to technology like GPS-guided munitions and drones, again providing valuable learning opportunities.

“The Russians come up with a countermeasure, we inform our partners and they make a new countermeasure against this countermeasure,” Reznikov said.

Petro Pyatakov, a retired colonel who is now a consultant for the arms industry, told the FT that there was an “active interest from Western artillery manufacturers in receiving feedback from Ukrainian gunners . . . to eliminate shortcomings.”

He said that the fighting in Ukraine had exposed some issues. “It has become apparent during operations that these systems were not intended for such intense warfare.”

A German defence contractor also told the outlet that they had learnt “really a lot from the soldiers in Ukraine,” who once they notice something “suggest it and our software engineers sit down so that they can have an update.”

Meanwhile, Jack Watling, from London-based think tank the Royal United Services Institute, told the FT that the fighting had also given the West new information about how Russia’s weapons work.

But he warned that the West “has exposed a lot of its own capabilities to Russia and China, and therefore will have to change the ways that some of its equipment work in order to retain competitive advantage.”

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