Almost a year into the war and building strong enough air defences against the barrage of Russian missiles, drones and bombs fired from the sea, in the air or on land, is still a challenge for Ukraine.
Ukraine has already taken delivery of the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, jointly developed by the US and Norway, which is designed to address a range of aerial threats. But on Wednesday, 1 February 2023, French defence minister Sébastien Lecornu and his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, met at Thales’ site in Limours, south of Paris, a centre of excellence for air defence in Europe, to sign a contract for the delivery of a complete short-range air defence system, including a Ground Master 200 radar, to help protect Ukraine.
The contract also includes a command-and-control centre, a radio communications system and air target designators. The visit to Limours by the two defence ministers included a tour of Thales's military radar design, production, and support facilities.
On his Twitter feed, Reznikov said the equipment would help it spot enemy drones and missiles, including ballistic missiles. The contract signing appears to have followed a meeting between Reznikov and French President Emmanuel Macron where the Ukrainian Army’s urgent operational need for self-defence equipment was discussed. France has also supplied the AMX-10 armoured fighting vehicle to Ukraine, as well as the CAESAR self-propelled howitzer, ammunition and fuel.
Thales says its air defence technologies provide protection from all types of air threats at all levels of airspace and cover the entire decision-making chain, from detection and identification to neutralisation.
To keep populations and the armed forces safe, threats must be detected as early as possible, it says, whenever and wherever they arise — at sea, in the air or on land. To defeat modern threats, which are more discreet, more manoeuvrable, and faster than ever, air defence systems must be capable of detecting and tracking any type of target, including small drones, and providing actionable data on objects in motion in the air, on land or on the surface of the sea.
Thales says the GM200 and the other surface radars in the Ground Master family offer an effective response to the types of threats faced by Ukraine, which include drones and long-range threats such as cruise missiles, helicopters, and combat aircraft. As a recognised European leader in systems integration, Thales has the capability to integrate air defence systems-of-systems and to manage compatibility with other defences, which is a real advantage for users needing to deploy their assets quickly and efficiently.
"Thales is proud to be playing a part in the protection of Ukraine, in particular by providing air defence systems," said Patrice Caine, chairman & CEO at Thales.