As the Russo-Ukrainian War continues to rage on, Ukraine’s Western allies have been doing what they can to ensure the country’s forces are equipped with the necessary weapons to defeat Russia. The United States, in particular, has made agreements to send the likes of MIM-104 Patriots, the M142 HIMARS and Bradley Fight Vehicles (BFVs). The country’s government is also offering Cold War-era weapons, including the MIM-23 Hawk.
Over the course of the Russo-Ukrainian War, there have been concerns over the quality and quantity of the weapons available at the Ukrainian military’s disposal. This has prompted a number of countries to offer up equipment from their own stock, including the US, Germany and France.
While the majority of the weapons being sent to Ukraine are relatively modern, the US has begun to take Cold War-era weapons out of storage, with plans to refurbish and upgrade them for use by the Ukrainian military. The first to be considered is the MIM-23 Hawk, which should provide defense against Russian cruise missiles.
The Raytheon MIM-23 Hawk is an American medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) that entered service with the US Army in 1959. With a weight of 1,290 pounds and improved radar, the weapon was intended to be a more portable counterpart to the MIM-14 Nike Hercules, which also entered service in the 1950s.
The only negative when compared to its predecessor was that the MIM-23 had a reduced range and altitude capability.
The system was made up of a number of components, which were fitted on wheeled trailers that allowed it to be moved around the battlefield. Equipped with a 119-pound blast fragmentation warhead, an operational range of between 45 and 50 km, and an altitude of 65,000 feet, the MIM-23 was a fierce weapon capable of destroying enemy missiles. That being said, it never saw combat use with the US military.
Over the course of its service, the MIM-23 was improved upon a number of times, with the most notable upgrades occurring in 1971 (missile improvements, upgraded radar) and ’95 (addition of a new warhead capable of destroying short-range tactical missiles). International operators also made their own modifications.
The US Army removed the MIM-23 from service in 1994, adopting the more-advanced MIM-104 Patriot. Also equipped by the US Marine Corps, the missile was superseded by the FIM-92 Stinger in 2002. Since then, the country’s MIM-23 systems have been in storage.
The MIM-23 Hawk missiles being sent by the US will be fired from launchers donated by Spain. Information regarding the possible deployment of these weapons was first revealed in October 2022 by Reuters, which reported that the government would need to draw upon the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to transfer the missiles. This would allow for them to be sent to Ukraine without the need for Congressional approval.
On January 6, 2023, the US Department of Defense announced it would commit an additional $3.075 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.
Along with 50 Bradleys equipped with 500 anti-tank missiles and 250,000 rounds of 25 mm ammunition, the new aid package will also see the delivery of 100 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers; 18 115 mm self-propelled Howitzers and support vehicles; 4,000 Zuni aircraft rockets; 36 105 mm towed Howitzers and 95,000 105 mm artillery rounds; and an array of sniper rifles, grenade launcher ammunition, small arms and machine guns, among other weaponry and equipment.