23rd November 2022
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made an unannounced visit to Kyiv last Saturday to meet Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in his first visit to the country since taking office. He followed in the footsteps of his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss and became the third British PM to visit Ukraine since the outbreak of the Russo-Ukraine war.
During his meeting with Zelensky, Sunak re-emphasised that British support for Ukraine in their struggle against Russia will remain constant.
He also announced an additional £50m package of defence aid comprising, amongst other things, 125 anti-aircraft guns plus technical equipment to help Ukraine counter Iranian-supplied drones, including radars and anti-drone technology.
It’s also reported that Britain has sent Ukraine an advanced model of the laser-guided Brimstone missile with double the range of the previous design. Britain first gave Brimstone missiles to Ukraine about six months ago. The missiles are usually air-launched from aircraft or drones, but Ukrainian troops have modified trucks to serve as mobile launch platforms to destroy Russian tanks and other vehicles from long range.
When launched from a ‘plane the range of the newer Brimstone 2 missile is roughly 37 miles, but when ground-launched this reduces to approximately 12 miles. The missiles can hit targets by tracking a laser fired by troops, aircraft or vehicles, or select its own target from a pre-programmed list through the use of an extremely high-frequency millimetric wave radar.
We should perhaps look at the economics of each of these weapons systems now being sent to Ukraine. Although which anti-aircraft guns and systems are being supplied is not clear, the shells they fire will cost considerably less than the anti-air weapons currently in use to down Iran-supplied drones. A Shahed-136 armed drone costs roughly $20,000, whilst a UK-supplied Starstreak missile comes in at £100,000. The cost disparity is obvious.
Brimstone, on the other hand, which each cost about £175,000, will destroy a tank like the Russian T 80 costing approximately $3 million. The economics of waging war continue to play a big part in the efforts of both sides to keep going.
Lt Col Stuart Crawford is a Defence Analyst and a former Army officer, author & broadcaster – sign up to his podcast at defencereview.uk
Have you signed up for the Defence Review Podcast? https://open.spotify.com/show/4vHJsYgxfrDyTkKgMpGlqs
Lt Col Stuart Crawford’s latest book Tank Commander (Hardback) is available for pre-order now