What Is the US Patriot Missile System and Why Does Ukraine Want One So Much?

What Is the US Patriot Missile System and Why Does Ukraine Want One So Much?
What Is the US Patriot Missile System and Why Does Ukraine Want One So Much

International Military
- The United States (US) plans to send Patriot missile defense system units to Ukraine to strengthen its defense against Russian attacks. The plan was announced by a White House official on Wednesday. "The Patriot air defense system will be an important asset for defending the Ukrainian people from Russian savage attacks on critical Ukrainian infrastructure," the White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, as quoted by German media, DW, Thursday (22/12/2022).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to arrive in Washington later Wednesday when a formal announcement will be made. The US move will also send a strong message to Moscow that Washington is ready to send some of its advanced missile defense arsenal to assist Kiev against a Russian invasion.

What is the Patriot Missile System?

Created by US aerospace and defense conglomerate Raytheon, the MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system originally developed to intercept high-flying aircraft. It was modified in the 1980s to focus on the new threat of tactical ballistic missiles. The Patriot system comes with a fully mobile battery that includes a command center, a radar station for detecting incoming threats, and a launcher.

According to the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank, current interceptor missiles for the Patriot system cost about $4 million per round and launchers cost about $10 million each. US Patriot missile system batteries are regularly used in various countries of the world. Countries that buy or operate it include the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Romania, Sweden, Poland and Bahrain.

Raytheon Company said it plans to continue updating the system until at least 2048. The Patriot system's current battery can defend against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, drones, aircraft, and other threats the company has not specified. Russia has used several airborne assets to attack Ukraine. However, Moscow forces also use smaller devices, such as mini drones that are closer to the ground, which are more difficult for Patriot systems to track and intercept.

The Patriot system covers an area of about 68 kilometers (42 miles), according to the German military. Its radar can track up to 50 targets and engage five of them at once. Depending on the version used, the interceptor missile can reach an altitude of over 2 kilometers and reach targets up to 160 kilometers away. According to CSIS, each unit requires around 90 soldiers to operate.

Why Does Ukraine Want a Patriot System?

Ukraine has repeatedly asked Western countries to supply advanced air defense systems to defend against Russian bombing of civilian energy infrastructure.

At a recent Group of Seven (G7) meeting, Zelensky specifically asked the group's leaders to send more air defense equipment. "Unfortunately, Russia still has an advantage in artillery and missiles," he said.

In late November, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Patriot defense system was what Ukraine needed most to protect energy infrastructure and stop power outages. "We need air defenses, IRIS, Hawks, Patriots, and we need transformers," he said on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Bucharest.

What System Is Ukraine Using Now?

To counter Russia's low-flying cruise missiles and bomb-like Shahed-136 drones, Ukraine has used a number of different short-range air defense systems, including Russian-made Buks and S-300s, older US-made Hawk missiles, and modern SAM systems such as NASAMS. . But modern SAM system launchers and missiles are few and far between. For example, the US may not ship any more NASAMS systems until late next year.

Read Also : Russia Will Target Strikes To US Patriot MIM-104 Missiles In Ukraine

The Patriot's greatest value is countering high-flying tactical ballistic missiles. Russia has not used many ballistic missiles in its war on Ukraine, but that could change if it acquires them from Iran. The Patriot system has proven highly effective in Saudi Arabia against Iranian-designed ballistic missiles fired from Yemen, although it has missed one.

What's Russia's Response?

Russia has warned the US not to supply Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine. "Like any heavy weapon, it will be a legitimate priority target for Russian troops," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in Moscow last week. "This will once again significantly expand US involvement in the conflict in Ukraine," Zakharova continued.

"The US has made itself a party to the conflict on a practical level." He said increasing amounts of US military assistance, including transfers of such advanced weapons, would mean a wider involvement of military personnel in hostilities and could have possible consequences.

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